Indian Railways to have the world’s largest electrified rail network! In a big boost for enhancing and reforming Indian Railways operations, Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Cabinet has today given the nod to electrify the remaining 13,675 kms of railway tracks. This is part of Piyush Goyal-led Indian Railways project – Mission 100% electrification – that will make the national transporter more environment-friendly and also ensure faster and smoother movement of passengers and freight on the expanding railway network. According to Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, this will cost the national transporter around Rs 12,000 crore. After the completion of this project, all braod gauge lines of Indian Railways will be elecrified – a fact which Goyal says will make Indian Railways the largest electrified rail network in the world.
Talking about the importance of this decision, Abhaya K Agarwal, Partner infrastructure & PPP at EY India says, “Electric traction on apple to apple comparison is more economically efficient at the same time has better traction efficiency i.e. acceleration and deceleration. Since diesel is a fossil fuel that is imported at a high cost, and given the CAD situation in India, it makes sense to shift to electric traction”. “This will also boost power consumption from a host of power plants that are struggling for demand. However, railways’ investments are long term and it’s fair to assume that railways must have taken care of cost benefit analysis since India is a capital scarce country,” he tells Financial Express Online.
According to Indian Railways, there are multiple benefits of 100% electrification; reduced dependence on imported diesel, enhanced line capacity and higher haulage capacity, seamless train operations ensuring better speed, improved signalling system for enhanced safety and direct employment generation during construction for nearly 20.4 crore man days. Indian Railways has said that the new indigenous electric locomotives deliver 5000 HP, which is 92% more than the old version. Not only that, Indian Railways is also getting ‘Make in India’ 12,000 HP electric locomotives from Alstom which has set up a plant in Bihar’s Madhepura.
The national transporter also believes that there is cost efficiency in conversion – while a diesel to electric locomotive conversion costs around Rs 2 crore, a diesel locomotive midlife rehabilitation costs Rs 5 crore. Electric locomotives cost Rs 16.45 per thousand GTKM for maintenance while diesel locomotives cost Rs 32.84 per thousand GTKM, claims Indian Railways. In 2017-2018, as many as 4,087 kilometres of railway tracks were electrified, which railways says is the highest ever in a single year. Additionally, Indian Railways produced 377 electric locomotives in that time period – the highest in a year as well!
Indian Railways has stated that there are several environmental benefits of 100% electrification. These are; reduced environment cost per tonne kilometre, 24% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2027-2028 and a reduction of nearly 2.83 billion litres of fossil fuel consumption per annum.
According to a source quoted in a TOI report, in order to electrify the tracks, Indian Railways is likely to invest an amount of around Rs 14,000 crore. Officials said that the electrification work of the tracks will be undertaken as a part of “Mission 100 per cent electrification” in the next three years. These tracks are spread over across a dozen states including Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, West Bengal and Odisha. Recently, Chairman of Railway Board, Ashwani Lohani stated that the electrification of Indian Railways’ tracks has been identified as one of the major potential areas for reducing the overall annual expenditure of the national transporter.
As per the government data, nearly 8,400 km of railway tracks have been electrified in the last four years as compared to electrification of 2,600 km during the previous four years under UPA-II.