National Rail Plan for Infrastructure Capacity Enhancement – All India Radio (AIR) IAS UPSC

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  • March 3, 2021
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Search 19th December, 2020 Spotlight News Analysis herehttp://www.newsonair.com/Main_Audio_Bulletins_Search.aspx 

TOPIC: General Studies 3

  • Infrastructure: Railways

In news: In a bid to address the inadequacies of capacity constraints as well as improve its modal share in India’s total freight eco system, the national transporter has come up with Draft National Rail Plan. To plan infrastructural capacity enhancement along with strategies to increase Indian Railways’ modal share, a long term strategic plan called the National Rail Plan has been created. The National Rail Plan, according to the Railway Ministry, will be a common platform for all Indian Railways’ future business, infrastructural, as well as financial planning. The national transporter aims to finalize the Final plan by January 2021.

According to the Railway Ministry, Vision 2024 has been launched as part of the National Rail Plan, for accelerated implementation of certain critical projects by the year 2024 such as 100 per cent electrification, upgradation of speed to 160 km per hour on Delhi-Mumbai as well as Delhi-Howrah routes, multitracking of congested routes, upgradation of speed to 130 km per hour on all other Golden Quadrilateral and Golden Diagonal routes as well as the elimination of all Level Crossings on all Golden Quadrilateral and Golden Diagonal routes.

  • The objective of the Plan is to create capacity ahead of demand by 2030, which in turn would cater to growth in demand right up to 2050 and also increase the modal share of Railways from 27% currently to 45% in freight by 2030.
  • It aims to reduce transit time of freight substantially by increasing average speed of freight trains from present 22Kmph to 50Kmph.

Key takeaways 

  • Three Dedicated Freight Corridors, namely East Coast, East-West & North-South identified along with timelines. 
  • Assess Locomotive requirement to meet twin objectives of 100% electrification (Green Energy) by December 2023 and also the increasing traffic right up to 2030 and beyond up to 2050.
  • To assess the actual demand in freight and passenger sectors, a yearlong survey was conducted over hundred representative locations by survey teams spread all over the country.
  • Forecast growth of traffic in both freight and passenger year on year up to 2030 and on a decadal basis up to 2050.
  • Formulate strategies based on both operational capacities and commercial policy initiatives to increase modal share of the Railways in freight to 45% by 2030.
  • Reduce transit time of freight substantially by increasing average speed of freight trains from present 22 Kmph to 50 Kmph.
  • Reduce overall cost of Rail transportation by nearly 30% and pass on the benefits to the customers.
  • Map the growth in demand on the Indian Railway route map and simulate the capacity behaviour of the network in future.
  • Based on above simulation identify infrastructural bottlenecks that would arise in future with growth in demand.
  • Assess rolling stock requirement for passenger traffic as well as wagon requirement for freight.
  • Select projects along with appropriate technology in both track work, signalling and rolling stock to mitigate these bottlenecks well in advance.
  • Several new High Speed Rail Corridors have also been identified. Survey on Delhi-Varanasi High Speed Rail already under way.
  • Assess the total investment in capital that would be required along with a periodical break up
  • Identify new streams of finance and models for financing including those based on PPP.
  • For successful implementation of the National Rail Plan ,the Railways will be looking to engage with Private Sector, PSUs,State Governments and Original Equipment Manufacturers(OEM)/Industries. Sustained involvement of the Private Sector in areas like operations and ownership of rolling stock, development of freight and passenger terminals, development/operations of track infrastructure etc.

In effect the National Rail Plan envisages an initial surge in capital investment right up to 2030 to create capacity ahead of demand and increase the modal share of the Railways in freight by 45%.

Post 2030 , the revenue surplus generated would be adequate to finance future capital investment and also take the burden of debt service ratio of the capital already invested. Exchequer funding of Rail projects would not be required.

Connecting the Dots:

  1. Do you support the idea of privatising the operations of railways? Substantiate your views with the help of suitable examples.
  2. Can privatisation of rail operations bring about positive transformations in the railways? Critically examine.  
  3. The Indian Railways is facing stiff competition from the domestic airlines and highways. What measures can be taken to make railways more competitive?

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