State-run Indian Railways has unveiled a National Rail Plan (NRP) for India, with an aim to make a ‘future ready’ railway system by the end of this decade.
The new plan is aimed to reform and make railways more sustainable, efficient, and modern while ensuring cheaper and safe transport, either in the passenger or freight segment.
By framing strategies based on both commercial policy initiatives and operational capacities, the NRP also aims to increase the Railways’ modal share in freight to 45%.
In a written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha, Indian Minister of Railways, Communications and Electronic & Information Technology Ashwini Vaishnaw said: “The objective of the Plan is to create capacity ahead of demand, which in turn would also cater to future growth in demand right up to 2050 and also increase the modal share of Railways to 45% in freight traffic and to continue to sustain it.
“To achieve this objective all possible financial models including Public Private Partnership (PPP) are being considered.”
By raising the average speed of freight trains to 50kmph, the NRP aims to cut down freight transit time considerably.
Some of the other objectives of the NRP include identification of new high-speed rail corridors and new dedicated freight corridors, evaluating the requirement of rolling stock for passenger traffic as well as wagon requirement for freight, and assessing requirement of locomotive to fulfil the goals of 100% electrification and freight modal share growth.
Furthermore, the new plan seeks to ensure sustained involvement of the private sector in various areas such as development of freight and passenger terminals, operations and ownership of rolling stock, development and operations of track infrastructure.
As part of Vision 2024 under the NRP, measures have been taken to accelerate the implementation of certain critical projects including multi-tracking of congested routes and 100% electrification.
Some of these projects also include upgrading speed to 130kmph on all other Golden Quadrilateral-Golden Diagonal (GQ/GD) routes, upgrading of speed to 160kmph on Delhi-Howrah and Delhi-Mumbai routes while removing all level crossings on these routes.
In a separate statement, the Indian Ministry of Railways announced its decision to carry out survey and prepare detailed project reports (DPR) for the seven high speed rail corridors.
These include Delhi-Varanasi, Mumbai-Nagpur, Delhi-Ahmedabad, Mumbai-Hyderabad, Chennai-Bengaluru-Mysore and Delhi-Amritsar corridors.