Image of Asia: Improving railway system that serves 23 million passengers a day
In this photo by Bikas Das, passengers hang from the doors of the coaches of a crowded local train on the outskirts of Kolkata, India. The railways budget unveiled Thursday by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu envisions $137 billion being invested over the next five years to modernize trains and stations, improve safety and sanitation and expand the reach of the rails in the system that serves more than 23 million passengers a day. The 77 proposed projects including adding an anti-collision system, surveillance cameras, Wi-Fi connections, cellphone charging points, a 24-hour hotline and more public toilets. But while freight customers will see a 10 percent increase in their fees, passenger fares remain unchanged. Prabhu said the effort would lead to "the rebirth of Indian Railways," but acknowledged "this cannot happen overnight."