A week after being appointed by the Narendra Modi government, to head a committee set up to lay down standards for metro rail systems in the country, E Sreedharan, often referred to as 'Metro Man' said, "bullet trains are only for the elite...India needs a safe railway system." In an interview to the Hindustan Times, Mr Sreedharan said bullet trains are "highly expensive and beyond the reach of the common people."
The Prime Minister's flagship bullet train project is coming up between Mumbai and Ahmedabad at an estimated cost of Rs 1.1 lakh crore. The project with Japanese collaboration has already missed a deadline on land acquisition, amid stiff opposition from farmers, in Gujarat and Maharashtra. The project, which is being closely monitored by the PMO, is set to be completed by 2022.
While approving the new metro panel, the Prime Minister's Office in a statement said "There are numerous areas for which indigenous standards need to be formulated. These are layout of metro stations, platforms, signage and displays, size of tunnels, fire protection systems, disaster management systems, environment friendly and waste management systems.
The indigenous standards will focus on sub-systems for all new metro projects and see that the new routes conform to the prescribed standards.
Apart from Mr Sreedharan, the panel will have eight other members from the Urban Development Ministry, the Railways and various other metro bodies.
The metro is increasingly becoming the lifeline of urban commuters in the country. At the moment, India has 490 km of metro lines in 10 different cities and more than 600 km of new projects under construction in various cities. In the capital, in addition to metro rail network, Regional Rapid Transport System is also being introduced to decongest the National Capital Region.
Mr Sreedharan, has been behind the planning of most metro projects in the country, starting from Kolkata, where the first metro came up in the 80s. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 2001 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2008.