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Rajdhani Last New Technology In Railways: Piyush Goyal’s Reply To Bullet Train Critics

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Rajdhani Express was the last “new” technology introduced by the Indian Railways, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said today, taking a jibe at critics of the bullet train including Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi.

“Some illustrious people have said why do we need a bullet train. Railways should focus on upgrading the existing infrastructure. The last time Indian Railways brought any new technology in India, if at all you call it technology, it was Rajdhani Express in 1969," he said at an event in New Delhi.

Recalling the time when the Rajdhani was introduced, Goyal said the chairman of Railway Board had opposed it at the time. “There were discussions in the Parliament whether India needs a Rajdhani. Thanks to all of that, India has not brought a new technology in the system for the last 48 years,” he added.

His comments came after Rahul Gandhi had targetted Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying that tickets for a bullet train will cost upwards of Rs 15,000. “Only Modi ji and his suit-boot friends will travel in it.”

Modi, along with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe, had laid the foundation stone of the bullet train project on Sept. 14. The high speed rail project is one of the ambitious plan of the NDA government which is planning to complete it by 2022. India’s first bullet train will run from Ahmedabad to Mumbai and will reduce the travel time between two cities to three hours from seven currently.

The 508-kilometre project will cost around Rs 1.1 lakh crore, of which Rs 88,000 crore will be in the form of a soft loan advanced by Japan at an interest rate of 0.1 percent, to be repaid in 50 years with a 15-year grace period.

As part of the Railways modernisation push, it isplanning to phase out Integrated Coach Factory coaches by June 2018 and ramp up production of Linke Hoffman Busch (LHB) coaches, Goyal said.

The ministry is also looking to double the manufacture of these coaches. “We want at least 5,000 coaches to be manufactured by Rae Bareli factory. I also spoke to Uttar Pradesh’s Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to acquire 2000 acres land to expand it,” Goyal said.

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