Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday while presenting the Union Budget announced a new National Railway Plan for India 2030 with a total allocation of Rs 1.15 lakh crore for Indian Railways.
Indian Railways was severely impacted in 2020 since the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted services, which were completely halted for a few months. Talking about the priorities of Indian Railways, Sitharaman spoke about the commissioning of the Eastern and Western Dedicated Freight Corridors.
The Centre plans to bring down the logistics cost for industry to promote an Atmanirbhar Bharat. For the same, the Eastern and Western Dedicated Freight corridors will be commissioned by June 2022. A few sections of the dedicated freight corridors will be made on the Public-Private Partnership model. She also said that the dedicated freight corridor assets will be monetized once the corridors are commissioned.
Railway Budget 2021 also highlighted the national transporter’s plan for 100% electrification of the broad gauge network by December 2023. On the passenger front, Sitharaman said that new Vistadome LHB coaches will be attached to trains on tourist routes to enhance comfort. According to the FM, Indian Railways’ safety measures have borne results in the last few years. She said that on high-density networks and highly utilized routes an indigenous anti-collision system would be installed for train safety.
In December 2020, the government had announced a draft National Rail Plan.
“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 percent,” the railway ministry had said in a statement.
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Indian Railways is looking to invite private sector participation in a big way for upgrading railway stations and also running trains on the network. India’s first “private railway station” – Habibganj in Madhya Pradesh – project under PPP mode is nearing its first phase completion. Also, Indian Railways is hoping to finalize the bids for the 150 private trains project by the first half of this year.
National Rail Plan 2024 also talks about the need to boost high-speed rail connectivity in the country on crucial high demand routes.
Some of the routes proposed in the National Rail Plan are; Delhi Varanasi via Ayodhya, Patna to Guwahati, Varanasi to Patna, Hyderabad to Bangalore, Delhi to Ahmedabad via Udaipur, Delhi to Chandigarh, Mumbai to Hyderabad, Amritsar to Jammu. The Detailed Project Report for the Delhi Varanasi bullet train project has been submitted to the Ministry of Railways for review.