Developments in Infrastructure – Highlights of Indian Railways in 2019

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The railway minister made some big ticket announcements like merger of cadres, corporatisation of PSUs and “privately” run trains in 2019, which also saw a huge infra push and digital drive. In 2020, the challenge will be to ensure that these best laid plans get implemented.

Soon after taking charge in his second term, Railway Minister Shri Piyush Goyal brought in an ambitious 100-day plan, which was a blueprint not only to revive railways’ dipping finances but also to streamline the working of the national transporter.

Introduction of Private Trains

  • One of the plans was to invite private operators to run two of its trains and also some routes which have low congestion and connect important tourist spots.
  • The first such private train is operational on the Delhi-Lucknow route.
  • The second train will be introduced between Mumbai and Ahmedabad from January 17, 2020.
  • Both these trains are being run by railway subsidiary IRCTC.
  • The Railways has also announced that 150 new trains will be given to private operators soon.

Corporatisation of PSUs

  • Another 100 day-plan is hiving off railways’ rolling stock and locomotive production units and associated workshops into a new government-owned entity called “Indian Railway Rolling Stock Company”.
  • According to the document prepared by the Railway Board, Indian Railways will conduct a detailed study of 7 of its production units — Chittaranjan Locomotive Works (CLW) in West Bengal, Integral Coach Factory (ICF) in Chennai, Rail Coach Factory (RCF) in Kapurthala, Diesel Modernization Works (DMW) in Patiala, Diesel Locomotive Works (DLW) in Varanasi, Wheel & Axle Plant in Bangalore, and Modern Coach Factory (MCF) in Rae Bareli.

Export

  • The Diesel Locomotive Works, Varanasi exported 7 diesel locomotives to Sri Lankan Railways.
  • Indian Railways will also provide broad gauge and meter gauge diesel locomotives to Bangladesh Railways for a period of 2 years to help them in improving train operations, thus managing to showcase its production capabilities to other Asian countries as well.

Safety

  • Railways also managed its best safety record in its history — zero accidents.
  • Elimination of manned level crossings.
  • Introduced Real-Time Train Information System (RTIS) in collaboration with ISRO for automatic chart preparation and passenger train information.
  • 87 pairs of ICF trains were converted to faster and safer LHB utilizing 116 LHB rakes.

Other Achievements

  • It also managed to bring the production of Vande Bharat rakes under control with railways announcing that it will procure 44 rakes from ICF.
  • Infrastructure also received a huge boost during this period with new line, doubling and gauge conversion increasing by 41%, construction of foot over bridges (FOB) increased by 37%.
  • Railways has also received approval to raise the speed to 160 kmph by 2022-23 on Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi Howrah routes and increase the average speed of passenger trains by 60%.
  • In 2019, railways went big with digital India, offering WiFi at 5400 stations.
  • The year also saw railways improving its punctuality performance for Mail/Express trains to 75.53% as compared to 68.08% in the same period of 2018 reflecting an improvement of 7.45%.
  • During this period, 143 trains were upgraded to Utkrisht standard, 72 new train services introduced.

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