Passenger safety, capital and developmental works and infrastructure management will continue to form the cornerstone for Indian Railways, said Vinod Kumar Yadav, general manager of South Central Railway (SCR), who has taken charge as chairman, Railway Board, and ex-officio principal secretary to the Central government on superannuation of Ashwani Lohani.
Assuming charge on Monday, Yadav said focus on safety, speed increase, passenger amenities and infrastructural development will be high on priority across all zones for Indian Railways. “Infrastructure development has seen a threefold jump with the increase in new lines, doubling, tripling and electrification in the last few years and will be open for more public private partnership (PPP) projects across the zones,” he said.
“In the last four-and-half years, the vision of the government was to provide rail safety which is the ultimate priority followed by better passenger amenities and infrastructure management,’” he said.
The four-pronged strategy adopted by the government is to fast-track completion of last-mile connectivity projects, increase the pace of construction of new railway lines, undertake doubling, tripling, quadrupling of the existing saturated rail routes and provide seamless connectivity with complete electrification of rail lines.
“As safety is the foremost priority, track renewal, maintenance and replacements of tracks is being undertaken at a faster pace. Besides, high speed bullet train project, semi high-speed corridors and Dedicated Freight Corridors (DFCs), works concerning new railway lines, doubling and tripling of railway lines, etc would also be the on the focus agenda,” he added.
Indian Railways is undergoing a transformational overhaul for improving all system. According to an estimate, Indian Railways will save around Rs 13,000 crore per annum in fuel bill and reduce carbon emission by 3.4 million tonnes a year, if the entire rail network in the country stands electrified. Electrification, coupled with increased use of solar power, is bound to keep the railways on course.
Electrification of railway lines can be one major potential area for reducing expenditure of the national transporter. The interesting fact is, while around two-thirds of freight and over half of passenger traffic of Indian Railways are carried on the electric traction, the energy expenses due to electricity consumption remain at 37%, which signify the cost effectiveness of electrification for Indian Railways.
In fact, a plan to electrify around 13,000 route km of railway lines at a cost of Rs 12,134.50 crore has already been approved by the Cabinet and target completion of electrification of the entire Indian railway network by 2021-22.
The Central Organisation for Railway Electrification (CORE), which is tasked with the completion of electrification of rail tracks over Indian Railways, has been undertaking the job with renewed momentum in the last few years.
SCR zone has taken to electrification of its network on a priority basis. At present, out of the total length of 5,992 route km of its network, 3,250 route km stand electrified, which is sizeably over 50%.