New Delhi: As the Indian Railways continues to rely more on freight train movement to generate revenue, it has now drawn up an ambitious plan to almost double its loading capacity in the next four years, ThePrint has learnt.
The plan needed to achieve “2,024 MT (metric tonne) loading in 2024” was mentioned in a letter dated 3 November that was sent by the Railway Board to general managers across all divisions and zones. At present, the Railways’ loading capacity is about 1,200-1,300 MT.
To double up its loading, the board has listed several steps needed to boost infrastructure on a priority basis.
They include doubling of tracks on the 11,000 km high density network (HDN) and 23,000-km highly utilised network (HUN), and tripling and quadrupling of 3,000 route km on the high density network.
Upgrade of the speeding on the Golden Quadrilateral to 130 kmph by December next year, and the entire HDN and HUN by 2024, upgrade of the speed of New Delhi-Mumbai and New Delhi-Kolkata freight trains to 160 kmph by 2024, identifying all signifying work by March 2024, commissioning the Eastern and Western Dedicated Freight Corridors by June 2022, and completing at least 146 railway electrification projects by December 2024 are among the other steps.
“As is apparent, the vision is ambitious and it will require the Indian Railways to reinvent itself to achieve the vision,” said the letter by the Member, Infrastructure, Railway Board, a copy of which was accessed by ThePrint.
“The focus on completion of projects will require planning at the earliest with clear short-term and long-term goals with regular monitoring and corrective action during execution,” it added.
On fund arrangement
The letter said another challenge “would be to arrange funds for the same during the next four years”.
“The resource allocation depends upon internal generation, gross budgetary support from the Ministry of Finance as well as market borrowing through the Indian Railway Finance Corporation.”
It added: “In case of borrowings, the debt service liability also needs to be taken in account and that is why the timely and even early completion of projects is necessary. No cost and time overruns should be allowed.”
‘First time incentive-driven development is being planned’
The letter said while fund allocation for these projects will not be a problem, funds will be made available according to the performance of the Railways.
“The fund allotment will be as per the performance of the Railways vis-à-vis their plan for these projects, which will bring a paradigm shift in Railways project execution.”
Explaining the “paradigm shift”, a railway official told ThePrint this is the first time that incentive-driven development is being planned in the Railways.
“The general managers would be given the personal responsibility of the timely execution of the projects on the basis of which more funds will be released. It will lead to healthy competition as well as a target-oriented approach,” said the official.
The Railways has been planning an array of reforms to make itself more market-driven and attract business.
Earlier this year, the Railways decided to set up business development units at all zonal and divisional levels that would stay in touch with industries and advertise the willingness of Railways “to attract new streams of traffic”.
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