Metro Man Of India Says Bullet Trains Are For The Elite, India Requires Safe And Fast Railway System
A retired civil engineer, Elattuvalapil Sreedharan, popularly known as the ‘Metro Man of India’, criticised the Indian railway system in an interview. He says, that the railway is 20 years behind those of advanced nations. He also says that the country needs a safe and modern railway system and that the expensive bullet train will only cater to the elite community.
86-year-old, Sreedharan, is the head of a committee approved by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to set norms for metro rail systems in India. He is credited for changing the face of public transport in India with his leadership in the Kolkata Metro project, the Konkan Railway through the Western Ghats, and the Delhi metro among others. He has served Delhi Metro as a managing director from 1995- 2012.
While speaking to Hindustan Times, Sreedharan punctured government’s claims, which say that the Indian railway has improved.
“Apart from bio-toilets, there is no technical upgradation. Speed has not increased. In fact, the average speed of most prestigious trains has come down. Punctuality is worst – officially 70%, actually less than 50%,” said Sreedharan.
Speaking about the railway accident record in the country, he says the death toll statistics has not decreased. “Many people die on tracks, at level-crossings, in suburban sections. Almost 20,000 lives are lost on tracks yearly. I feel Indian Railways is 20 years behind those of advanced nations,” he adds.
A Padma Shri and Padma Vibhushan awardee, Sreedharan slams PM Modi’s pet project Bullet train. He says Bullet trains will cater only to the elite community train as it is an expensive mode and beyond the reach of the common public.
The Japan-backed Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project costing $17 billion is expected to be constructed by August 2022. The government also hopes to generate hundreds of jobs through the train project.
He also claims that he is pushing for standardisation and indigenisation of metro services for long. “With standardisation, efficiency will go up and reduce the cost considerably. We can manufacture coaches and other parts indigenously. I feel we can convert metro into a ‘Make in India project’,” he adds.
Recently Sreedharan was asked by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to serve on the United Nations High-Level Advisory Group on Sustainable Transport for three years.
Sreedharan says, he is impatient at the pace with which the country is progressing.
“Even after 70 years of independence, one-third of our population lives below the poverty line. Apart from material progress, what I am disappointed is the steep decline in ethics, values and principles in the country. A thorough course correction is necessary for the nation”.