Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu today said decline in prices of diesel, a major source of fuel for railways, is one of the reasons behind the government's decision not to hike passenger fares.
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu today said decline in prices of diesel, a major source of fuel for railways, is one of the reasons behind the government’s decision not to hike passenger fares.
The Minister also said that to tide over the issue of energy, Railways will utilise its space like stations, tracks, land, etc to generate solar energy.
He was speaking at a talkathon on Railway Budget 2015-16 on video sharing site YouTube, where he was replying to citizens’ queries.
To a question on reasons behind not hiking fares, Prabhu said: “We have … prepared a plan. Resources on accounting of not hiking fares is not an issue. This year, as you know there is fall in diesel prices, which is one of the major fuel that Railways uses.
“And then again we are not making any significant improvement in the quality of services for the Railways. It would have been unfair for me to ask people to pay more before I do all this.”
On the back of sharp fall in global crude prices, the government had on February 4 reduced diesel prices by Rs 2.25 a litre, the sixth cut since October last year. However on February 15, it hiked diesel prices by 61 paisa following firming up of oil prices in the international market.
On a question of use of solar energy, he said solar is the oldest source of energy. It is the only source which can help India particularly but also the world to tied over the energy crisis.
It is also environment friendly and over a period of time, it will be the cheapest source of energy because the capital cost is high, but there is no operating cost, he added.
“I am therefore convinced that we need to have more solar energy for Railways. We are using our best to use all our footprint like railway stations, tracks, like land wherever it is possible and feasible to set up solar panels. And also solar thermal energy,” Prabhu said.
Solar panel is like solar PV (photo Voltaic). There is possibility of generating solar thermal energy in a big way, he added.
“That again needs to be explored. So I am very convinced that Indian Railways could positively contribute to generate clean energy, solar energy through its own available land, available footprint, available resources and help in reducing the cost of energy over a period of time,” he said.
The Minister said railways has an action plan for all unmanned railway crossings.
Railways have sought Rs 20,000 crore from the Finance Ministry as railway safety fund to do away with unmanned level crossings, a major reason for train mishaps across the country.
“We will do away with them. Money is available for this. I feel very sad and responsible when an accident takes place and we have decided to check this,” he added.