Indian Railways issues draft National Rail Plan to create capacity ahead of demand by 2030

In an endeavour to address the inadequacies of capacity constraints and improve its modal share in the total freight eco system of the country, Indian Railways has come up with a Draft National Rail Plan. 

A long term strategic plan called the National Rail Plan has been developed to plan infrastructural capacity enhancement along with strategies to increase modal share of the Railways. The National Rail Plan will be a common platform for all future infrastructural, business and financial planning of the Railways. This plan is being circulated among various Ministries for their views now. Railways aim to finalise the Final plan by January 2021.

The objective of the Plan is:

  • To create capacity ahead of demand by 2030, which in turn would cater to growth in demand right up to 2050 and also increase the modal share of Railways from 27% currently to 45% in freight by 2030 as part of a national commitment to reduce Carbon emission and to continue to sustain it. Net Zero Carbon emission by 2030.
  • To assess the actual demand in freight and passenger sectors, a yearlong survey was conducted over hundred representative locations by survey teams spread all over the country.
  • Forecast growth of traffic in both freight and passenger year on year up to 2030 and on a decadal basis up to 2050.
  • Formulate strategies based on both operational capacities and commercial policy initiatives to increase modal share of the Railways in freight to 45% by 2030.
  • Reduce transit time of freight substantially by increasing average speed of freight trains from present 22Kmph to 50Kmph.
  • Reduce overall cost of Rail transportation by nearly 30% and pass on the benefits to the customers.
  • Map the growth in demand on the Indian Railway route map and simulate the capacity behaviour of the network in future.
  • Based on above simulation identify infrastructural bottlenecks that would arise in future with growth in demand.
  • Select projects along with appropriate technology in both track work, signalling  and rolling stock to mitigate these bottlenecks well in advance.

The National Rail Plan, Vision 2024:

As part of the National Rail Plan, Vision 2024 has been launched for accelerated implementation of certain critical projects by 2024 such as 100% electrification, multitracking of congested routes, upgradation of speed to 160 kmph on Delhi-Howrah and Delhi-Mumbai routes, upgradation of speed to 130kmph on all other Golden Quadrilateral-Golden Diagonal (GQ/GD) routes and elimination of all Level Crossings on all GQ/GD route.

  • Future projects for implementation beyond 2024 in both track and signalling have been identified with clear cut timelines for implementation.
  • Three Dedicated Freight Corridors, namely East Coast, East-West & North-South identified along with timelines. PETS survey already underway.
  • Several new High Speed Rail Corridors have also been identified. Survey on Delhi-Varanasi High Speed Rail already under way.
  • Assess rolling stock requirement for passenger traffic as well as wagon requirement for freight.
  • Assess Locomotive requirement to meet twin objectives of 100% electrification (Green Energy) by December 2023 and also the increasing traffic right up to 2030 and beyond up to 2050.
  • Assess the total investment in capital that would be required along with a periodical break up.
  • Identify new streams of finance and models for financing including those based on PPP.
  • For successful implementation of the National Rail Plan ,the Railways will be looking to engage with Private Sector, PSUs,State Governments and Original Equipment Manufacturers(OEM)/Industries.
  • Sustained involvement of the Private Sector in areas like operations and ownership of rolling stock, development of freight and passenger terminals, development/operations of track infrastructure etc.
  • 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 Railways in freight by 45%.
  • Post 2030, the revenue surplus generated would be adequate to finance future capital investment and also take the burden of debt service ratio of the capital already invested. Exchequer funding of Rail projects would not be required.

Dedicated Freight Corridors (DFCs):

The eastern and western DFC are already under construction. The other 3 identified DFCs are also concurrent with the proposals identified under National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP). These are discussed in the following sections. 

The East-West DFC:

East West DFC connects Palghar to Dankuni. 

Proposed Route:-

  • East-West DFC starts from Palghar (on Western DFC, near Vangaon station on IR), as direct connectivity with Mumbai is not feasible. 
  • On the Eastern end, one route ends at Andal (on Eastern DFC station) and the other route at Kamarkundu (new station on Eastern DFC, near Dankuni), as direct connectivity with Howrah/Dankuni is not feasible.
  • Total route length of East-West Dedicated Freight Corridor between Howrah (Andal/Kamarkundu near Dankuni) and Mumbai (near Palghar) is 2,328 km.
  • Total of 37 Junction Stations (31 on Palghar – Andal Line and 6 on Rajkharsawan – Kamarkundu Line) and 29 Crossing Stations are proposed on this corridor.

The North-South DFC:

Proposed route:-

  • North-South DFC starts from Pirthala (on Western DFC, near Palwal station on IR), as direct connectivity with Delhi is not feasible at the Northern-end.
  • At the Southern-end, the proposed Arakkonam station is connected with Chennai-Bangalore line.
  • One connection is proposed towards Chennai at IR station Trubalangadu and another connection is proposed with Melpakkam towards Bangalore side.
  • Total route length between Pirthala (near Delhi) and Arakkonam (near Chennai) is 2,327.6 km.
  • A total of 21 Junction Stations and 43 crossing stations have been proposed along the North-South DFC.

The East Coast DFC:

Proposed Route:-

  • East-Coast DFC starts from Hijli (near Kharagpur), as direct connectivity with Kharagpur is not feasible.
  • At the Southern-end, the proposed Vijayawada DFC terminal is connected with Vijayawada IR station and North-South DFC line.
  • Total route length from Kharagpur to Vijayawada is 1,114.7 km.
  • This route has 31 stations between Kharagpur and Vijayawada, out of which 15 are junction stations and 16 are crossing stations.

New High Speed Rail Corridors :

With an aim to meet the growing passenger demand and to optimise the high speed rail connectivity between major cities/ commercial/economic centres, the following high-density passenger routes were identified for developing High Speed Railway (HSR) corridors.

The corridors are more or less the same as proposed as part of NIP. In addition, certain extensions/ new corridors have been proposed for enhancing HSR outreach and providing connectivity to other towns:

  • Delhi – Chandigarh – Ludhiana – Jalandhar- Amritsar HSR Corridor is recommended to be extended to Jammu via Pathankot for enhancing regional connectivity and for giving economic boost to the Jammu and Pathankot Region. It will cater to the religious tourism potential of Vaishno Devi Shrine and other places.
  • Delhi – Agra – Kanpur – Lucknow – Varanasi- HSR corridor is recommended to route via Ayodhya due to Religious Tourism Potential.
  • Delhi – Agra- Kanpur Lucknow – Varanasi HSR corridor is also recommended to be extended to connect Patna and Kolkata.
  • Additional HSR Line from Patna to Guwahati via Katihar and New Jalpaiguri thereby connecting Guwahati with Delhi Varanasi Kolkata HSR Corridor.
  • Additional HSR Line between Hyderabad and Bengaluru by extending Mumbai Hyderabad HSR Line. This shall connect Mumbai with Chennai and also will bring North India from Jammu – Amritsar – Delhi – Jaipur – Ahmedabad – Mumbai – Hyderabad – Bengaluru – Chennai on HSR corridor and all the major towns of North, West and South India shall be connected with 1 HSR Corridor. This will help in boosting the regional economy.
  • Additional HSR line is proposed between Nagpur and Varanasi by extending the Mumbai – Nashik – Nagpur HSR Corridor. This shall connect Mumbai with Varanasi which will further connect with Delhi – Varanasi – Patna – Guwahati HSR corridor.

Source: PIB-Press Release | Image Credit (representational): MoR