The ministry has also planned to step up production of new generation diesel and electric locomotives. Wagon makers will now be able to import technology from abroad to build modern carriages in the country.
In the terminal year of the 11th Plan, the railways have set an ambitious target of 1,100 mt of revenue earning traffic and 8,400 million originating passengers.
However, experts say the targets are too ambitious to be met. According to Bombardier Transportation managing director Rajeev Jyoti, The procurement of rolling stock is the highest ever and this reflects the ministrys enthusiasm for increasing overall freight and passenger traffic. Also, the public private partnership programme is a medium-to long-term initiative.
Jyoti said the primary challenge for the government would be faster completion of the programmes while maintaining superior quality. At a time when the economy is growing at 9%, the railways should ensure that they have the infrastructure in sync with the requirements. Poor infrastructure should not be a bottleneck, he said.
To increase carrying capacity, production of 20.3-tonne axle load stainless steel wagons will be stopped from 2008-09 and only 22.9-tonne wagons will be manufactured. According to the Indian Foundation of Transport, Research and Training, the 20.9-tonne axle load wagons are outdated and need to be upgraded to meet the governments targets.
Railway minister Lalu Prasad said discussions are being held with international companies for developing new designs for the 22.9-tonne wagons and a decision is likely by next year-end.
In a bid to realise the full potential of the newly designed high capacity wagons, 5,000 open wagons will be upgraded to stainless steel body in 2008-09, thereby reducing their tare weight by about 2 tonne.
Since the old Wagon Investment Scheme has not been very popular, with the exception of iron-ore customers, a new liberalised scheme has been prepared. Under this scheme, investments can be made for procurement.