Emphasising on Indian Railways’ vision to achieve 100% electrification of tracks in the next four years, railway minister Piyush Goyal on Friday asked officials to prepare an incentive-cum-penalty programme for vendors in order to implement the plan in a time-bound manner.“We should have a standardised design so that vendors do not need to run for approvals and projects should be awarded in a transparent manner. If quality is assured, the railways will make payments within 30 days,” said the minister while speaking at the International Conference on Green Initiatives and Railway Electrification. India has one of the largest railway networks with track lengths of around 66,000 km; at present around 33,000 km, or 40%, of tracks are electrified. The cost of electrification works out to around Rs 1 crore per route km, which the minister said should come down by 30% as the railways would now be offering large contracts. “I am sure as the scale of electrification goes up, cost will come down,” added the minister.
He also said that the railways may open letters of credit for vendors in case capital is a constraint. Ghanshyam Singh, member-traction, Railway Board, added that bid documents are being tweaked to widen the vendor base. The railways will play an important role for India to achieve reducing 35% of its carbon emission under the Paris agreement. The two-day conference will see dialogues and look to chart a way forward for de-carbonisation of the transporter. During the occasion, a total of 5 MW of solar rooftop plants at four railway stations — Hazrat Nizammudin, Anand Vihar, New Delhi and Old Delhi — were also commissioned.
The total electrification of railway tracks is expected to reduce the energy bill from current Rs 26,500 crore per year to about Rs 16,000 crore. To expedite the process of electrification, the ministry of railways will involve state-owned Ircon International, Rites and Power Grid Corporation of India. The railways is also aiming to reduce its no-traction use of electricity through efficient electrical usage at stations and offices. Apart from installing solar panels on railway stations and other assets, it will also be looking at using spare land for solar parks. It plans to generate a total of 1,000 MW of electricity through solar and 200 MW through wind in the coming years.