Suresh Prabhu to talk rail reforms with MPs


NEW DELHI: In a bid to take members of Parliament (MPs) on board, railway minister Suresh Prabhu would meet parliamentarians to discuss the progress of rail projects under implementation in their constituencies. The meet is aimed at ensuring speedy implementation as the state-run transporter is struggling with huge pendency of projects.

Prabhu, along with minister of state for railways Manoj Sinha, will meet all MPs in seven batches over dinner during the winter session of the Parliament session.

An official in railway board secretariat said Sinha has directed the board to submit the details of ongoing projects and other works across 17 zones. The railways have landed in a financial mess due to the long list of non-remunerative projects.

As per railway data, around 406 projects for constructing 43,982 km of tracks at a cost of Rs 1.85 lakh crore have been pending — some for over three decades. Soon after taking charge, the BJP government had issued instructions to general managers, asking them to draw up a priority list on pending projects, while indicating certain projects could be scrapped.

The meeting is also seen as railway minister’s attempt to reach out to MPs before preparation of the rail budget. Railways are flooded with requests from parliamentarians on new trains, laying of new tracks and stoppage of trains at particular stations in their constituencies among other things.

The move is also seen as an attempt to take MPs into confidence before infusing radical reforms which could be politically unpopular and make them partner in revival of the state-run transporter, an official said.