The saga of Indian Railways dates back over 160 years ago. On April 16, 1853, the first passenger train ran from Bori Bunder (Bombay) to Thane. Sahib, Sultan, and Sindh, with thirteen carriages were the three locomotives. And they were responsible for operating it.
Moreover, by the 21st century, India is the world’s largest rail network. The route length network is spread over 1,23,236 km with 13,523 passenger trains and 9,146 freight trains. Including 23 million travelers and 3 million tonnes of freight daily from 7,349 stations.
Although Indian Railways has been a monopoly since 70 years of Independence; It is facing immense losses, and railways find it challenging to meet its requirements.
According to Budget 2020-21, railways received Rupees 65,837 crore. And the highest-ever capital expenditure of around Rupees1.60 lakh crore.
In the Budget for 2019-20, including a screech 200 percent increase in funds for passenger amenities.
While presenting the Budget, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that the railway infrastructure would need Rs 50 lakh crores between 2018 and 2030.
She also proposed public and private partnerships. She added to her statement that private-public partnership is needed to unleash faster development.
New railway infrastructure enhancements are made to cover railway losses. They are:
In the Kushinagar accident, 13 school children were killed after their school van collided with the passenger train. The accident took place due to an unattended railway crossing in Uttar Pradesh. To avoid rail accidents, the Indian Railways has been working to eliminate all malfunctioning crossings (UMLCs) by March 31, 2020.
Over the last four years, the national transporter has eliminated 5,500 unattended railway crossings. It is announced that 11,545 kilometers of broad gauge lines under railway zones are made free of UMLCs.
2.Dedicated Freight Corridor
The Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India is preparing feasibility reports for new corridors. The reports are supposed to be submitted by December 2021.
Tenders will be released soon for the same. Tender meetings will take place to choose the consultants for DPRs. The meeting will include the details of the alignment, land requirement, and traffic projection. Thus, Freight trains would be assigned a track to travel on.
3. Foot overbridge
The railways have included foot overbridge (FOBs) in its safety items list. It claims a 221% increase in FOBs construction per year from 23 per year during 2009-14 to 74 during 2014-18.
Railways have built three FOBs at Elphinstone Road-Parel, Curry Road, and Ambivalli in Mumbai with the help of the Indian Army. The public transporter also claims a three-time increase in the average construction of road overbridges every year. From 415 yearly between 2004 and 2014 to 1,220 between 2014 and 2018.
4. Out of the fog
Indian Railways are taking new measures to avoid train delays and accidents due to fog. Last December, the railways allocated over 500 GPS-enabled FOG PASS devices. The devices help the loco pilots to safely follow the cold weather schedule.
The device displays a map of signals, tracks, stations, and level crossings. The GPS alerts the loco pilot 500 meters ahead; Helping him increase or decrease the train’s speed.
5. Modern signaling system
The railways have invested Rupees 1,299 crore to improve signaling systems in the year 2017-18. The new system terminates the need for manual signaling. The new automated system reduces the clogging of the rail network. It improves punctuality by increasing line capacity. It also gives real-time information on train movements.
The transporter also provided a state of art electronic interlocking system to 208 stations in 2017-18. That makes it 26% higher than 2016-17.
Railways Minister Piyush Goyal said that the Indian Railways would bring the most modern European train control technology and would implement it.
In monsoon season flooded tracks stall the functioning of local trains every monsoon. Usually, four inches of water can force a locomotive engine to stop. and the trains were forced to stay put until the water recedes.
However, the modified engine can travel through 12 inches of water. Indian Railways will use the engine to move the local, and long-distance trains stuck on tracks due to water-logging.
7.Connecting the unconnected
Boosting PM Modi’s Act East Policy. The railways have given a connectivity boost to Northeast India. It has converted the entire NE rail network to a broad gauge.
Railways now also connect Dudhnoi, Meghalaya, and Mendipathar; Kumargha, Tripura, Agartala. Kathakal, Mizoram, and Bhairabi. Railways are Working on 1,397 kilometers of new rail line project is in progress.
8. Ticketing and catering
The transporter of Indian railways has so far installed 9,100 points for sale machines at about 4,000 locations.
Including rail ticket counters to encourage cashless transactions. To improve catering services, it had upgraded 16 base kitchens in the year 2017-18.
The railways are working towards reshaping the high footfall stations. Whereas, the renovated stations will signify local art and culture in their design.
They will also have luxury facilities such as escalators, including lifts, subways, and ramps. AC waiting rooms, AC VIP lounge, shopping malls, and restrooms will also be provided. Sixty-eight stations are listed for improvement by March 2019. Also, Sixty has already been beautified using local arts. By following local art, the railway is promoting PM’s policy “Go local and vocal.”
As proposed in the railway budget, a total of 600 stations may get a makeover.
For example, Over 40 percent of Madhya Pradesh’s Habibganj railway station’s redevelopment is completed to make it an airport-like railway station.
Smudged platforms and tracks are dwelling in the past. The railways had started Swachh Railways’ mission. To encourage sanitation throughout the stations.
Beas station of Punjab and Visakhapatnam station of Andhra Pradesh is the cleanest among 407 stations. The railways have now integrated a mechanized cleaning system at 488 stations.
Railways have planned to extend it to all suburban and central stations. Also, Railways started using an automatic rail-mounted machine to keep the platform tracks clean. The mounted device is currently used in Delhi. The system will be replicated across India. To prevent irresponsible cleaning by housekeeping contractors; A feedback-based wage will also start.
The feedback will be collected from passengers. Moreover, payments to the contractor will be made accordingly. Railways will move to 100% electrification in the next 3.5 years. And 100% ‘Net Zero’ operator in the next 9-10 yrs. By 2030, each one of us will be a proud citizen, owning the world’s first large Clean Railways.
Piyush Goyal chaired Railway Ministry’s electrification goal. The Konkan Railway continues with the progress of railway electrification work on its route.
Indian Railway has harmonized the obtainability of required goods and pieces of equipment for the process. Once aligned, the cadmium containers, copper, and copper are loaded on the automatic wiring train. Whereas, after the necessary approvals; The goods and equipment are moved to the pre-defined site of wiring.
The wiring of both catenary and overhead contact wires is done simultaneously through an automatic wiring train at the Konkan Station. . The train is paired with a utility track vehicle that is already erected bolts with a tower wagon in support.
These lines are connected to substations at short distances to ensure a constant electricity flow throughout the line. According to the Railway Ministry, Konkan Railways is getting ready for its restructuring. Meanwhile, the Railway Ministry has planned for 100 percent electrification of Broad Gauge railway routes by 2023.
Whereas, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced Asia’s largest solar plant in Madhya Pradesh’s Rewa.
The Prime Minister announced the 750-megawatt solar power plant to the country through virtual conferencing. He said that it would help the court and the entire globe secure sustainable development.
Solar energy will be a major medium of energy not only today but in the 21st century. Because solar energy is sure, pure, and secure.
He also stated that other nations would discuss the way India is consuming solar energy. It is the most attractive market for clean energy.
Now, let’s see if these new reforms can help Indian railways recover their losses. Because at the end of the day, we consumers have to pay for all the losses. As we pay extra for the same services.