- 2.8 Lakh crore plan – Rebuild Railways
- 2 Lakh new workers to be recruited for safety checks
In a move to revamp one of the world’s largest railway networks, the government has drawn up a Rs 2.8 lakh crore plan called Re-build Railways. Out of this, close to 15,000 crores will be spent in the current fiscal to fix snags in the railway network and a fund named Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh’ (RRSK) has been created for the same. A top railway official said that the aim is to reduce accident by 50% in the next two years. This includes supply of track detection machines from Australia, redevelopment of 65 stations and raising the average speed of trains. Also planned are retrofitting 40,000 coaches and making them safer and making trains discharge free in a year by installing almost 50,000 bio-toilets. An Australian company called Track IQ will provide the technology and equipment, including a sensor-based system to detect rail cracks.
The production of Integral Coach Factory (ICF) coaches will be stopped as well. They account for 90 per cent of total coaches of Indian Railways. They will be replaced with safer Linke Hofmann Busch(LHB) coaches of German design which have anti-climbing feature that prevent the rolling stock from piling over each other in case of accidents, thus minimizing the number of casualties. Additionally, procurement of more than 100 track inspection vehicles is also on the cards. The national transporter will also make its research wing, SHRESTHA, operational at the earliest. The research wing will focus on piloting the upcoming global rail technology that will minimise accidents.
In another move, close to 2,00,000 workers will be recruited by the Indian Railways in the next couple of years in order to put safety back on track. They will be responsible for patrolling and maintenance of 64,000 km long network of tracks. This move comes after Kalinga-Utkal Express derailment that killed at least 21 people in Uttar Pradesh last week and Kaifyat-Express derailment that injured more than 70 people.
Focussing on elements that can deliver tangible results quickly, almost Rs 18000 crore are being spent on making Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Kolkata rail corridors semi high speed. Ongoing projects such as the 3,300-km dedicated freight corridors will also be made operational within a year and a half. The corridors being constructed at the cost of Rs 1 lakh crore will increase the average speed of freight trains from the current 25 kmph to 70 kmph and would substantially reduce the rail freight tarrifs. Railways claims that in the last four years, it has spent almost Rs 4 lakh crore on infrastructure creation and modernisation, against Rs 4.9 lakh crore that was spent between 1947-2013.
Let us hope these modernization measures will soon bring fruit and the Railways will become safer and less-expensive.