New Delhi, Jan 22 (IANS) Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal Tuesday said expediting pending projects, cleanliness, food and safety will be his top priority.
"The railways will do its best to complete the projects but financial constraints need to be addressed," Bansal told a Parliamentary Consultative Committee on railways.
He added that "cleanliness, food and safety will get priority".
Bansal said that teams of Railway Board officials would inspect stations across the country to ensure cleanliness. He added that efforts were on to provide quality catering services at stations and in running trains.
He said it was a challenge to complete the ongoing projects of the new line construction, gauge conversion and doubling track worth Rs.1.5 lakh crore due to resource constraint.
"Negative fund balances in 2011-12 have adversely affected essential replacement/renewal of assets, operation and maintenance activities and critical safety and passenger amenity works," Bansal said.
He also justified the recent train fare hike, saying losses in the passenger segment have increased substantially over the years. He said around Rs.1,200 crore, which will be generated till Mar 31, could be used for the ongoing projects.
Bansal said the railway's internal resource generation has resulted in scaling down the annual plan size to Rs.51,000 crore in 2012-13 as against Rs.61,000 crore originally targetted.