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Modi Cabinet 3.0: Ashwini Vaishnaw retains Railways and IT, gets I&B Ministry

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NEW DELHI : Modi Cabinet 3.0 shows that Shri Ashwini Vaishnaw has retained the Railways Ministry and IT Ministry besides getting one heavyweight portfolio – Information and Broadcasting. Vaishnaw held the Railway Ministry since July 2021. He had replaced Shri Piyush Goyal, who led the ministry from September 2017 to July 2021. 

The Modi government has tried to change the face of public transportation, and the railway tops the chart, with a massive push on building world-class infrastructure, stations, and the launch of new trains like Vande Bharat and Bullet trains.  

Ahead of the general elections, the Centre said the railway ministry was planning to launch Vande Bharat Sleeper Coach and Vande Bharat Metros. A senior official closely associated with the project said in April that the railways was planning to launch the country’s first Vande Metro to transform the intra-city transportation system.

“All preparations are going on to start its trial run from July 2024 so that its services can be offered to people as soon as possible,” the official said.

Based on the latest technology to acquire high acceleration and deceleration which will help it cover more stoppages in less time, Vande Metro will have several new features keeping in mind the travel needs of the city dwellers. 

The Vande Bharat metro will have a unique coach configuration in which four coaches will constitute one unit and a minimum of 12 coaches will make one Vande Metro. To start with, the Railways will launch a minimum of 12 Vande Metro coaches and will increase coaches up to 16 as per the demand on the route.

While the railways has transformed stations and started semi-high-speed trains, one criticism that has been made against the Modi government is that not enough has been done for passenger trains and for those who cannot afford Vande Bharat or AC travel. The Centre has also faced criticism for not being able to solve the waiting list crisis. 

In April, Vaishnaw said that the government was looking to increase the capacity of the Railways to a level where every passenger could get a confirmed ticket. “In the next five years, PM Modi guarantees that the capacity of the Railways will be increased so much that almost any passenger who wants to travel can easily get a confirmed ticket,” he had said in a video message.

To end waitlisting completely by 2030, Indian Railways aims to increase daily train trips by 3,000, carrying more than a billion passengers annually. A budget of Rs 1 lakh crore has been allocated to replace old rolling stock with 7,000-8,000 new train sets.

Earlier this year, Prime Minister Modi while speaking at the India Today Conclave outlined a roadmap for India’s infrastructure growth, particularly focusing on the transformation of the Indian Railways over the next five years. The government has announced the introduction of 50 Amrit Bharat trains in the 2024-25 fiscal year, which are designed to enhance passenger experience on non-Vande trains.

The Indian Railways has plans to operationalise 4,500 Vande Bharat trains by 2047.

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