Indian Railways eyes major projects in the next few years! With PM Narendra Modi-led BJP government returning to the office, Indian Railways and its passengers can look forward to continuity in policy making – focus on safety, infrastructure upgradation, increasing speed of trains and enhancing passenger amenities. Indian Railways, often called the lifeline of the country, plays a crucial role in not just passenger and goods movement, but also in the economic growth. We take a look at 5 likely areas of focus by Indian Railways over the next few years:
1) Semi-high speed trains: In the month of February 2019, India’s first semi-high speed, self-propelled train set – the Vande Bharat Express – was flagged off by PM Narendra Modi. The train, which runs between New Delhi and Varanasi covers a one-way distance in around 8 hours. Since, its start, the train mostly received positive feedback from the passengers. Thus, following its success, the Railway Ministry is expected to roll out more such train sets. Earlier this year, it was reported that Indian Railways is planning to run Train 18- Vande Bharat Express on other routes as well. Train 19, a sleeper-class Rajdhani style version of the Train 18 is also in design stages and expected to cut travel time substantially for long-distance journeys.
2) Dedicated Freight Corridor: Giving a boost to Indian Railways’ infrastructure, several stretches of the Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) project are likely to open soon. It is being expected that the DFC stretches will result in huge capacity augmentation on Indian Railways network. The DFC project, worth Rs 81,459 crore had received the approval from the Union Cabinet in 2006. However, since then, the project missed several deadlines due to various reasons. While the Eastern DFC covers a distance of 1,856 km from Ludhiana in Punjab to Dankuni, near Kolkata, passing through UP, Bihar, Haryana, and Jharkhand, the Western DFC will cover 1,504 km from Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust near Navi Mumbai to Dadri in UP, passing through Vadodara-Ahmedabad-Palanpur-Phulera-Rewari.
3) Golden Quadrilateral project: In the coming years, the national transporter is likely to decongest the Golden Quadrilateral for smooth and faster movement of trains. The government sanctioned around Rs 17,000 crore in Union Budget of 2017 for two corridors of the quadrilateral, Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Howrah, however, it was reported that the actual work on these corridors will only start after the DFCs become operational. The four other routes under this project are Delhi-Chennai, Chennai-Mumbai, Chennai-Howrah and Howrah-Mumbai. Moreover, Indian Railways may also upgrade all the MEMU trains on the Golden Quadrilateral corridors with next-generation Train 18-style MEMUs.
4) World-class railway stations: Currently, the Indian Railway Stations Development Corporation Limited (IRSDC), a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) under Railway Ministry is carrying out the redevelopment of stations. Many prominent stations, such as Habibganj, Gandhinagar, Surat, Baiyappanahalli stations, etc., will get an airport-like makeover along with several modern facilities and amenities in the coming years. Besides, all the railway stations across the country are being upgraded and beautified. Many of them, including New Delhi railway station, Mathura Junction, Jaipur Junction, Haridwar, Lonavala stations and others have already undergone major renovation recently.
5) Export of trainsets: After the big success of Vande Bharat Express, Indian Railways is likely to export the same to other nations. Recently, it was reported that some South American and South-East Asian countries have evinced interest in import of Train 18 sets and coaches. The export of Train 18 sets to other nations would be a significant move for Indian Railways as it will give a major boost to Modi government’s ‘Make in India’ programme. However, the Train 18-style coaches will be only be exported after the domestic demand is met.