Free Wi-Fi services have been provided to 50 lakh passengers at 115 railway stations across the country and the railways propose to provide such facility in running trains too later, the Rajya Sabha was informed.
Replying to a question during Question Hour, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said the execution of Wi-Fi facility at 400 railway stations has been entrusted to RailTel Corporation, a subsidiary of the Railways, without any fund allocation by the government. “The number of passengers using the Wi-Fi services at all stations was approximately 50 lakh in the month of February at 115 stations so far provided with Wi-Fi service,” he said.
A total of 400 railway stations will be covered in the first batch and the criterion adopted to instal the service depended upon the volume at stations. Prabhu said Wi-Fi facility, being a public service, was not just provided to railway passengers but also to all visiting the stations, including a large number of students.
“Of course, there is also a proposal to provide it in running trains,” he said responding to a query from a member, adding that the facility is available in some trains already. “We will try to give it in most trains,” he said.
Prabhu claimed that the use of Wi-Fi at stations was being regulated by guidelines issued by Department of Telecom and no case of violation of these guidelines has been reported. “All DoT guidelines are followed so that no website banned by DoT can be opened,” he said.
The Railway Minister also claimed that the facility as provided by Google was according to them “the biggest and fastest public Wi-Fi in the world.” To another question on whether the stations in the east would be covered, he said, “Because the Sun rises in the East and we cannot ignore the East.” ALSO READ: Google Railtel Wi-Fi rolls out at Udhagamandalam, its 100th railway station in India
In reply to a question on provision of solar powered panels on rooftops of trains, he said the Railways have provided solar panels on rooftops of 19 narrow gauge in Norther Railway and 4 broad gauge non air-conditioned coaches in service for use of electrical energy generated in train lighting system on a trial basis, which would save a total of Rs 41,000 crore over a period of 10 years.
“Indian Railways have embarked upon a mission to save Rs 41,000 crore over a period of 10 years through efficient energy management and power procurement,” he said.