India’s Metro-Man, Er. E Sreedharan, casts a looming shadow over the “development” of the Indian Railways – under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The retired Indian Engineering Service (IES) officer, who served as the managing director of Delhi Metro from 1995 to 2012, has slammed the Centre’s ambitious bullet train project as well as the proclaimed developments in the Railways.
In a statement released earlier, Sreedharan called out the bullet train project stating it caters only to the “elite community”. It is not what India needs right now, he added. “What India needs is a modern, clean, safe and fast rail system,” Sreedharan iterated.
The Centre’s efforts at transforming the way in which Indian’s experienced rail transport has not done much, the ex-IES officer commented. “Apart from bio-toilets, there is no technical upgradation. In fact, the average speed of most prestigious trains has come down. Punctuality is worst – officially 70%, actually less than 50%. Accident record has not improved. Many also 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 said.
The bullet train project, Modi said, is critical for the success of the ‘Make in India’ campaign. Apart from job generation, the PM believes the project to lift manufacturing in India’s $2 trillion economy. The $17 billion project is expected to be constructed by August 2022.
Regarding the establishment of a panel for standardising metro rail systems, Sreedharan said, it is a welcomed move that will increase efficiency and reduce costs.