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Big plans to link AP with rest of India

Big plans to link AP with rest of India
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A day after he was elected unopposed to Rajya Sabha from Andhra Pradesh, Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Saturday announced a number of major railway projects for the state, including a high-speed rail line between new capital Amaravati and Bengaluru.

Vijayawada: A day after he was elected unopposed to Rajya Sabha from Andhra Pradesh, Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Saturday announced a number of major railway projects for the state, including a high-speed rail line between new capital Amaravati and Bengaluru.

Suresh Prabhu said that a study would be conducted to introduce two high-speed trains in AP. High-speed railway lines would be built between Visakhapatnam-Chennai and Bengaluru-Amaravati in collaboration with foreign countries.

Stating that he had talks with French officials on Friday, Suresh Prabhu said, “We will talk with other countries as well and choose a partner." Briefing reporters after a three-hour high-level meeting with Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, the Union Railway Minister said a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV)-- Joint Venture (JV) company would be formed by the railways with the state government in a couple of months for taking up major rail projects in the state.

"Through the proposed SPV, 21 railway stations in the state would be redeveloped as airports. The South Central Railway General Manager would coordinate with the state government in this regard and review the works every month," Prabhu said. Referring to the issue of railway zone, the minister said it is under consideration. Naidu made it clear to Union Railway Minister that AP’s first priority is new railway zone.

He said that the state suffered huge loss with bifurcation and the new railway zone would provide employment to local people and benefit the state.

The Railway Minister also announced an aggregate capital investment of Rs 1,000 crore for setting up two new railway workshops at Kurnool and Tirupati, and a wagon overhaul facility at Visakhapatnam. These facilities would create hundreds of jobs, he said. Prabhu also announced that a major Rail Neer plant would also be set up in Andhra Pradesh.

Two special tourist trains would also be introduced in the state, one of which would be run by the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), he said. "The second tourist train would be modelled on the Palace on Wheels and the Deccan Odyssey. We would work with the state government on this," he said.

Asserting that he has now become "a citizen of Andhra Pradesh", following his election to Rajya Sabha from the state, Prabhu said he offered prayers at Lord Balaji temple atop Tirumala Hills on Saturday.

"Andhra Pradesh has Lord Balaji, the biggest asset. I discussed with the Tirumala-Tirupati Devasthanams authorities this morning about developing a world-class railway terminal in Tirupati under Public-Private Partnership (PPP)," the minister said. "Andhra Pradesh would not be lacking in terms of railway support. The state is facing transition difficulties because of the bifurcation. Railways would do everything to help the state," Prabhu said.

The railway minister said platforms at several railway stations would be developed at a cost of Rs 50 cr for Krishna pushkaralu besides special trains for the pushkaralu. Since Andhra Pradesh stands as a link between East and West and North and South it would be developed as transport hub, he said.

Speaking on the occasion, Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu said that he submitted a representation to the Union Railway Minister seeking linking of Amravati capital with important railway stations in the country and railway zones. Naidu said he had told the railway minister that 2.67 lakh people would visit Vijayawada city per day for Krishna pushkaralu and around 5 lakh people were expected during holidays. He appealed to the railway minister to make necessary arrangements at railway stations and introduce special trains during Krishna Pushkaralu.

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