Sunday, February 5, 2012

Plans for railway makeover

Railway minister Dinesh Trivedi wants train stations to look like airports — functional, customer-oriented, and with an attention to details. The proposed Railway Stations Development Corporation Limited will be mandated to transform dirty and dilapidated railway stations into modern and aesthetic spaces equipped with well designed concourses, congestion-free platforms, separate terminals for arrivals and departures, restaurants, and other amenities.
This is the fourth time in recent months that Mr Trivedi, a pilot-turned-politician, has sought to model the railways on the airline industry. Taking a leaf out of the civil aviation ministry’s plans to establish an agency to regulate airline fares, Mr Trivedi last week mooted an independent regulator for fixing passenger fares and freight tariffs of the Indian Railways. A few months ago, he spoke about linking rail fares to fuel price, similar to the practice of base-fare plus fuel-charge charged by airlines at the time of booking tickets. Mr Trivedi has also said that he would like train drivers to dress up like airline pilots, with shoulder bars and hats. He believes a uniform instils discipline and pride, and it will be good for employee morale.
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Media partial to big fish?
For all those wanting to know whether the CBI, the premier investigating agency of the country, is any good, here is a statistic: At least 330 people have been convicted in the highly talked about fodder scam valued at `65 crores, which was a major reason for the downfall of the then Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav. These convictions have taken place over 16 years of trial during which Mr Yadav had to go to jail.
So, has the CBI, which probed the case, done its job? “Even after our persistent efforts, media in the national capital doesn’t bother. Maybe if 330 people had been convicted at one go, the national media would have taken note,” lamented a CBI officer.
National media should have taken note. But then, there is the other side of the story too. “How many is not important. Who all have been convicted is. If the big fish had been convicted, the media would have taken notice,” quipped another officer.

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