(GIST OF YOJANA) Transforming Connectivity: Indian Railways on the Go [FEBRUARY-2019]


(GIST OF YOJANA) Transforming Connectivity: Indian Railways on the Go

[FEBRUARY-2019]


Transforming Connectivity: Indian Railways on the Go

Mains Paper 3: Economy
Prelims level: Railways
Mains level: Infrastructure, roads, ports, railways

Introduction

  •  Indian Railways, the third largest railway network in the world, has, in the past few years, undergone transformational changes to expand its reach to every' comer of the country at a remarkable speed, and to provide passenger and freight services with safety and punctuality.
  •  The railways maintain a gigantic network of 63,000 kms and run 22,000 trains to transport 1.50 million passengers daily. This requires keeping infrastructure such as track, bridges, signalling and telecommunications in fit condition.
  •  The Government under the Prime Minister's leadership enhanced investment in the railways, and gave it a big push so that it maintains existing services, and meets their ever growing demand. The allocation for Railways has increased to Rs 5.30 lakh crores in the past five years.
  •  The Railways are now connecting India at a faster pace with a 59 percent increase in the average speed of commissioning new lines from 4.1 km (2009-14) per day to 6.53 kms per day (2014-18). The annual capital expenditure during the first four years of the Government saw a quantum leap and was more than double that of the 2009-14 average.
  •  Transformation is on from Kanyakumari in the South to the North East region. Doubling of tracks and electrification projects, which provide much relief to a system under stress, have been launched in the Kanyakumari-Nagercoil-Thiruvanantha puram section covering 349 kms at a cost of Rs.3618 crores.

Connecting the Seven Sisters

  •  In the North East, rail connectivity has come to all the Seven Sister States of Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura, Mizoram, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh.
  •  Jiribam, the first railway station in Manipur was connected by broad gauge line.

Capacity Augmentation

  •  Capacity augmentation was essential on the Indian Railways, and the railways launched two Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFCs) projects, Eastern and Western Dedicated Freight Corridors (EDFC and WDFC), for the purpose.
  •  The two projects have progressed full speed since 2014, culminating in successful trial of freight trains over Phulera-Atari section of the Western Dedicated Freight Corridor (WDFC) and Khurja-Bhadan section of Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor (EDFC) in August and November 2018, respectively.

Speeding up Electrification

  •  Electrification will reduce the use of imported fossil fuels thereby improving energy security to the nation. Consumption of high speed diesel oil will be reduced by about 2.83 billion litres per annum and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
  •  This will also reduce environmental impact of Railways. Hundred percent electrification will provide seamless train operation by eliminating detention of trains due to change in traction from diesel to electric and vice versa.
  •  It will help Railways in enhancing line capacity due to higher speed and higher haulage capacity of electric locomotives.
  •  There will be improved signalling systems, which will lead to enhanced safety in train operations.
  •  To achieve the ambitious target electrification of balance routes, strategic policy decisions have been taken, like base of executing agencies have been broadened and projects covering 1735 RKM have already been  entrusted to PSUs i.e. IRCON, RITES and PGCIL.

Ensuring Safety

  •  To ensure connectivity with safety, the railways created the Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh (RRSK), a dedicated fund for safety projects during 2017- 18, with a corpus of Rsl lakh crores over a period of five years, specially for clearing the backlog of critical safety related works.
  •  This includes track renewals and safety, strengthening of bridges, elimination of unmanned level crossings, upgradation of maintenance facilities, signaling improvement and complete switchover to shock-resistant LHB coaches with greater safely features, along with retro fitment of ICF coaches.

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Offering Better Services

  •  To make the railways smart, for punctuality, instead of the station master recording the time, data loggers have been put at interchange points which would be computer generated
  •  The step has already improved punctuality to 73-74 per cent.
  •  Indian Railways is working on putting a GPS device on every locomotive so that every train can be tracked on mobile phones knowing exactly where they are. Railways is reviewing to engage itself with artificial intelligence. The Railways believe that there is a lot which can be done with data being put to use with predictive maintenance, better monitoring and utilization of assets and better passenger service. Indian Railways has also planned to make 6,000 railway stations Wi-Fi enabled.
  •  Railways is improving passenger services including a complete makeover of stations by installing modem facilities including escalators, lifts, free wifi etc. while instilling local art and culture in the design.

Way forward

  •  To make rail transportation attractive to its customers, various initiatives were taken in 2017-18 which includes tariff rationalisation, classification of new commodities, expansion of freight basket through containerisation, new delivery models like RO-RO services, Long Term Tariff Contract policy with key customers, Station to Station rate, Double Stack Dwarf Container (DSDC), customer friendly rationalization of weighment policy, Electronic Registration for Demand of Wagons (e-RD) etc.
  •  Decision has been taken to transport empty containers and empty flat wagons for private container rakes at a discount of 25 per cent.
  •  The move is likely to give a thrust to movement of empty containers by rail towards ports to return as loaded, thus profiting Indian Railway with higher container share.

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