Bullet trains are for elites, India needs a safe rail system; E Sreedharan

Having revolutionised the way urban people commute, Elattuvalappil Sreedharan, 86, a retired civil engineer, has taken up the challenge of laying down standards for the metro rail system.The ‘Metro Man’ said that the country needs right now is modern, safe and fast rail system, and not bullet trains which will cater only to the elites.

the Indian Railways is “20 years behind those of advanced nations”, and that “bullet trains will cater only to the elite community.”

Sreedharan was in charge of the Konkan Railway through the Western Ghats, the Delhi Metro and a part of the Kochi metro. He also worked as an advisor to the Andhra Pradesh government on Vijayawada and Vizag metro rail projects, before submitting his resignation to Andhra Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu. Sreedharan is also the head of a committee approved by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to set norms for metro rail systems in India.

Sreedharan disagreed with Indian Railways rapid progress.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%,” he said.

He further added that the accident record had not improved and that 20,000 lives are lost on India’s railway tracks.

Terming bullet trains as “highly expensive” and “beyond the reach of ordinary people”, he said that India required “a modern, clean, safe and fast rail system.”

Sreedharan is a former officer of the Indian Engineering Service and also a member of the United Nations’ High-Level Advisory Group on Sustainable Transport.

He was given a target of six months to complete the restoration work of Pamban Bridge in 1964, which was washed away due to a cyclone. Sreedharan completed it in 46 days.

Now, he is the head of the Committee to lay down standards for metro rail systems, which has to submit its report in three months.

“There are various other areas for which standards need to be formulated…layout of metro station, platforms, signage and displays, size of tunnels, fire protection systems, disaster management systems, environment friendly and waste management systems, standards for solar panels at stations etc,” a government statement had said.

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