Railways have stepped up efforts to electrify 4000 km route in the current fiscal, a quantum jump from the last year’s target of 2000 km. Pace of electrification has gained traction as the railways has rolled an action plan to drastically decrease the use of diesel in order to reduce energy cost and greenhouse gas emission. Currently, only 42 per cent of total track network is electrified, rest section is operating on fossil fuel. Railways energy bill is touching about Rs 32,000 crore a year out of which diesel is about Rs 20,000 crore.
With electrification of major rail routes, the energy bill is likely to come down by Rs 10,000 crore. During the last three years (2014-2017) and for 2017-18, total number of 93 railway electrification projects consisting 16,815 route kilometer at an estimated cost of Rs 17,165 crore have been included in the Budget. The pace of electrification has been increased from present average of 1700 km route per annum to 4000 km in 2017-18, a senior Railway Ministry official said.
According to the action plan, about 22,000 km route has to be electrified by 2021. Further, to expedite electrification of railway lines in the country, various steps have been taken, which include award of turn-key contracts and better project monitoring mechanism, he said.
Railways has also enhanced power of field units for award of contracts including sanction of estimates while increasing the number of executing agencies from existing three to six by entrusting electrification works to new agencies such as Indian Railway Construction Company, Rail India Technical and Economic Services and Power Grid Corporation of India Limited. In order to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, railways has planned to source about 1000 MW solar power as a part of the Solar Mission of Railways and about 200 MW of power from wind mill power plants based on techno commercial assessments.