Railway Minister Piyush Goyal today said safety was the first priority of the national transporter and that passengers were well aware why trains were getting delayed.
At a press conference, highlighting the achievements of his ministry, Goyal said the railways had registered its best ever safety record in 2017-18 with consequential train accidents reduced to 62 per cent -- from 118 in 2013-14 to 73 in 2017-18.
"Maintenance of the tracks, which was due for decades, is causing train delays. The passengers are well aware why the trains are getting delayed and they know that the Indian Railways is getting future-ready. Everyone knows what we have received in inheritance," he said.
Lashing out at the previous United Progressive Alliance government, the Bharatiya Janata Party leader said while former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had announced the Rail Safety Fund in 2003-04, it was not considered for 10 years, due to which an unsafe railways was passed on to the present government.
Stating that the average annual capital expenditure in the rail sector in the last four years was more than double the average of what it was during 2009-2014, he said there was a 59-per cent increase in the average pace of commissioning new lines -- from 4.1 km (2009-14) to 6.53 km per day (2014-18).
Goyal also pointed out that in 2017-18, about 5,000 km of railway tracks were renewed.
In six-seven years, the railways aimed at doubling its income to become 'self-reliant', he said, adding that the national transporter had provided free wi-fi services at over 675 stations and it planned to extend the service to over 6,000 more stations.
The minister also said the railways had embarked on transitioning to sustainable rail transportation with a six-time increase in electrification -- from 610 RKM in 2013-14 to 4,087 RKM in 2017-18.
It had recorded the highest ever freight-loading of 1,162 MT in 2017-18 and 1,107 MT in 2016-17 and the freight earnings had also shot up, with a 12-per cent increase expected over the previous year, projected to be around Rs. 1.17 lakh crore in 2017-18, Goyal said. -- PTI