The takeaway for Piyush Goyal-led Railway Board from the meeting was that the policy of complete electrification of Indian Railways network has to be put on hold, without missing the yearly physical targets for electrification. These targets will be decided every year as the need arises.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked Piyush Goyal-led Ministry of Railways to not rush through with its plan for full electrification of the Indian Railways network. Indian Railways has prepared a plan to electrify 38,000 route kilometers network in a time span of in five years – from 2017-18 to 2021-22. This would mean 100% electrification of its broad gauge routes. According to an IE report, PM Modi recently chaired a meeting with the entire Railway Board led by Piyush Goyal. PM Modi is believed to have questioned the rationale for full electrification, specially in light of the fact that it would render a lot of diesel locomotives of Indian Railways useless. 100 per cent electrification of the Indian Railways network has been pursued aggressively by Piyush Goyal since his appointment as the Railway Minister in September last year. PM Modi reportedly said that a massive working infrastructure is already in place for diesel locos, which is the other mode of traction.
PM Modi feels that premature idling of in-service rolling-stock assets from the diesel stable is not a good idea, the report quoted sources as saying. There are around 5,800 working diesel locomotives in Indian Railways. According to a source, electrification is a long-term process and its timeframe has to depend on the Budget. The source who feels that these things do not happen immediately, added by saying that the diesel stock that Indian Railways has, is with a certain life and transforming the entire network will take time.
The takeaway for Piyush Goyal-led Railway Board from the meeting was that the policy of complete electrification of Indian Railways network has to be put on hold, without missing the yearly physical targets for electrification. These targets will be decided every year as the need arises. PM Modi is believed to have asked Indian Railways to ensure that the yearly budgetary expenditure targets towards electrification and other capital spends should be met.
Interestingly, in his Union Budget 2018 speech Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had announced optimal electrification of railway network, as against full electrification.