New Delhi, Jan 17 : With the aim of providing better amenities, Railways will make a budget provision of Rs 3,400 crore for installing about 3,000 escalators and 1,000 lifts at all major urban and suburban stations across the country.
This will facilitate smooth movement of passengers, including old and physically-challenged people.
While 372 escalators are meant to cover all stations including Kandivali, Matunga, Bandra, Churchgate, Dadar, Elphinstone Road, Mahalakshmi and Jogeshwari in Mumbai, 2,589 escalators will be installed at stations on the rail network in the country.
According to a railway ministry official who did not want to be named, Large-scale installation of escalators and lifts would lead to an economy of scale, with reduction in cost.
At present, an escalator costs around Rs 1 crore and a lift about Rs 40 lakh.
Railways recently revised the criteria for making urban and suburban stations eligible for installation of escalators from earnings-basis to footfalls.
Now all those stations which have 25,000 footfalls or more a year are selected for such installations.
Earlier, those stations that had annual revenue ranging between Rs 8 crore and Rs 60 crore were eligible for the facility.
This time the focus of the Rail Budget is on safety and passenger amenities so it was decided to extend the facility to all major urban and suburban stations, the official said.
The proposal of earmarking the provision for the escalators in Budget for 2018-19 was being finalised, he said.
The Rail Budget, merged with the main Budget, will be unveiled by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in Parliament on February 1.
(Arun Kumar Das is a senior Delhi-based freelance journalist.
He can be contacted at email@example.com)