Preparing for the demand in future, Indian Railways seeks to increase its modal share in freight by 45% from the existing 27% in 10 years, as stated in the draft National Rail Plan 2030, released on Friday.
Railway Board chairman Vinod Kumar Yadav said that the draft provides a road map for upgrading railway infrastructure to achieve this target.
As per the long-term strategic plan, it aims to create capacity by 2030 that will meet demand up to 2050, study rail infrastructure deficiencies and future infrastructure needs, prioritise projects and assess financing strategies.
The ministry has prepared the draft and will now seek comments from all stakeholders before finalising the plan within a month.
The surge in traffic has put the railways in a tough spot. It is facing severe capacity constraints considering that infrastructure development had failed to keep up with traffic growth, which led to network congestion.
“Suboptimal rail modal share has adversely impacted logistics cost and industry competitiveness. It is important to reduce transit time and cost. The national transporter aims to reduce the overall cost of rail transportation by nearly 30% and pass on the benefits to customers. The aim is also to reduce the transit time of freight substantially by increasing the average speed of freight trains from 22kmph to 50kmph.”~Vinod Kumar Yadav, Railway Board Chairman
The Railway Ministry also prepared a vision plan for the next four years as a subset of the draft plan. The capital expenditure for this is INR 2.9 trillion.
Mr Yadav added, “The railways has allocated funds till 2024 and charted out from where the funds will come. It will implement high priority projects as per plan.”
The proposed plan includes northeast connectivity projects (288km) by March 2023, 111km of Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramula project by 2022, and the phased implementation of the dedicated freight corridors.
“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 Indian Railways in freight by 45%. Post-2030, the revenue surplus would be adequate to finance future capital investment and also take the burden of debt service ratio of the capital already invested. The exchequer would not be required to fund railway projects.”~Railway Ministry said in a statement
On a separate note, Yadav said the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic may result in a 72% fall in passenger segment revenue in FY21 to INR 15,000 crore compared with the previous year.