Piyush Goyal took charge of the railway ministry on Friday and said he was happy that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had reassigned the portfolio to him as it would mean “continuity” in the work of the ministry.
He said that improving passenger experience and modernising the railways would be his focus areas.
“I am happy that there will be continuity in the work that we had begun in the first stint. The many works that we have started will be continued. I hope that we will be able to improve the passenger experience as well as the process of loading of goods,” he said, with Minister of State Angadi Suresh Channabasappa, a four-time MP from Karnataka, by his side.
Goyal, having achieved the lowest accident figures in his previous tenure, had repeatedly said that his goal was to reach the zero accident standard.
“Together we can take the work of railways to newer heights. Newer heights of transparency, newer heights of innovative thinking, newer heights of bringing honesty in the railways and growth in passengers and freight traffic.
“Newer speed of implementing infra projects and customer satisfaction that is the new Indian Railways and new India that the PM has charted for us,” he said.
However, Goyal’s biggest challenge would be to maintain the record of maintaining punctuality, timely track maintenance and renewal. His aim would be to ensure that railway factories ramp up production of state-of-the-art coaches for trains such as Vande Bharat Express so that more such services can be introduced.
Goyal, who had pushed for generating resources through non-fare revenue, had hit a stonewall during his last stint, but the minister is likely to drive this idea as he believes that this will bring in additional funds to boost the beleaguered railways’ finances.
In his first stint, Goyal, a Rajya Sabha member, achieved several firsts — it was during his tenure the government announced its first bullet train which would run from Mumbai to Ahmedabad in Gujarat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state; manufactured its first indigenously-built and engine-less high-speed train Vande Bharat Express; commissioned its longest bridge; converted a diesel loco into an electric one for the first time; and built its first transport university and its first air-conditioned local train.
The national transporter also registered the lowest accident rate in the past three decades during Goyal’s tenure.