The railways is undertaking a massive drive to boost capacity, which is aimed at providing tickets to people on demand in all premier and express trains, railway minister Suresh Prabhu said on Friday.
The railways will significantly raise capital expenditure in the next financial year from R1,21,000 crore (Budget estimate) in 2016-17, Prabhu said. His ministry also plans to run trains at a speed of 160 km per hour in some of the important routes such as Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Howrah, and to raise the speed of all trains, including goods transporters, Prabhu said, addressing the economic editors’ conference through video-conference.
The railways’ capital expenditure witnessed a massive leap from just about R50,000 crore in 2014-15 to R93,000 crore in 2015-16, according to Railway Board chairman AK Mittal. Although Mittal didn’t give a precise forecast of the extent of the rise in capex for the next fiscal, he added much of the capex will be utilised to improve capacity and consequently boost earnings. He said despite running 20,000 trains a day, the railways is unable to meet demand of both passenger and freight traffic. The eastern and western freight corridors will be completed by December 2019, which will be a “game changer”. This is because most of the freight is usually transported in the regions that come under the corridors.
The railways also plans to improve its punctuality rate to up to 95% from the current 80%. However, although the railways targets to keep the operating ratio at 92% in 2016-17, just a tad worse than the revised estimate of 90% for 2015-16, it would be a Herculean task, given the burden of the pay panel recommendations.
The eastern corridor from Ludhiana to Dankuni (1,840 km) and the western corridor from Dadri to Jawahar Lal Nehru Port (JNPT) (1,502 km) are being constructed for exclusively movement of goods trains.
“Once DFC is operational, we will be able to run more passenger services and also increase the speed of all trains, he said. He said the speed of mail/express trains, which are running at 50 km per hour currently, will go up to 80 km per hour under the plan. Freight trains, which are at present running at 25 km per hour, will go up to 70 km per hour at DFC,” Mittal said.