The Indian Railways is the world’s largest rail network. With all round development, industrialisation and urbanisation is catching up fast across the length and breadth of the country. The movement of men and material is rising rapidly with growing aspirations of the user expecting world class service from Indian Railways. The railways in India are constantly reinventing and trying to match with the expectations of the masses and classes in India. Need for Speed has come to the fore as the top most priority as it can help in moving people and goods at a faster rate from one one place to another. The capacity expansion is being implemented and explored further. The key to unlocking the potential of the Indian Railways lies in the capital funding at a massive scale so that important projects can be taken up without any delay. The Government of the day is going great guns in trying to collaborate with countries and companies so that the best mix can be decided and growth path is laid for rapid rise of the Indian Railways. Sandeep Sharma takes a look at the some of the segments and initiatives taken by the Indian Railways in its quest to provide smooth ride to the citizens….
HIGH SPEED RAIL CORRIDORS
Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain has recently informed Rajya Sabha that Six corridors on Diamond Quadrilateral connecting metropolitan cities and growth centers of the country (Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai & Kolkata) have been identified for feasibility studies for high speed rail connectivity viz: (i) Delhi-Mumbai, (ii) Mumbai-Chennai, (iii) Chennai-Kolkata, (iv) Kolkata-Delhi and both diagonals i.e. (v) Delhi-Chennai and (vi) Mumbai-Kolkata routes.
Feasibility studies for Delhi-Mumbai, Delhi-Kolkata and Mumbai-Chennai have been awarded in September, 2015. Feasibility studies for Delhi-Nagpur portion of Delhi-Chennai corridor and Mumbai-Nagpur portion of Mumbai-Kolkata corridor are being undertaken through Government to Government cooperation, with China and Spain respectively.
Japan has offered an assistance of over Rs.79,000 crore with regard to Mumbai - Ahmedabad High Speed Rail Corridor Project. The loan is for a period of 50 years with 15 years moratorium with the interest rate is 0.1 per cent. The project is a 508 Kilometer line costing a total of Rs. 97,636 crore. The project completion is envisaged in seven years.
REGIONAL RAPID TRANSIT SYSTEM (RRTS)
The Functional Plan on Transport for National Capital Region (NCR) – 2032 has identified the following eight corridors of Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS):
The following three RRTS corridors have been prioritized :
As per the Feasibility Reports, the total estimated project cost for the above three prioritized corridors including escalation and Interest during construction (IDC) (with Central and State Taxes) is Rs.72,170 crore at 2013 price level.
PRIVATE SECTOR INVESTMENT
Ministry of Railways has taken several policy measures to attract private investment namely, new Participative Policy for capacity augmentation, issuing sectoral guidelines for Domestic/Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), preparing Model Concession Agreements (MCAs) for PPP models, liberalizing Private Freight Terminal (PFT) policy, Station redevelopment policy, setting up Loco manufacturing units through PPP etc.
PUBLIC PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP (PPP) PROJECTS
Ministry of Railways is keen to attract private sector investment for Railway projects. The areas identified so far include building last mile connectivity for ports/mines/industrial cluster, setting up of manufacturing units for rolling stock, building Private Freight Terminals (PFT), procurement of wagons, private operation of containers trains and redevelopment of stations among others.
Till now investment of more than ₹ 35,000 crore has been committed for projects in these areas. The target of Extra-Budgetary Resources through Partnership for 2016-17 is ₹ 18,340 crore. No projection of funds has been made for 2017-18 and 2018-19. However, in the Budget 2015-16, it was announced to step up the investments with a plan to spend ₹ 8.56 lakh crore in next 5 years (2015-2019) which envisaged approximately 15% through PPP.
As per the Twelfth Five Year Plan Document (2012-2017) issued by the erstwhile Planning Commission, 25% of total Eleventh Plan Investments of Ministry of Railways came from Extra Budgetary Resources. Precise mobilisation from private investment has not been compiled for the period by Ministry of Railways. Also since different sectors have different characteristics, the figures are not comparable.
WORLD CLASS RAILWAY TERMINAL
Indian Railway (IR) plans to build world class railway terminals across the country. World class railway station projects are primarily envisaged through private investment and Government funds are required only for preparatory works such as consultancies for feasibility reports and advisory services, for which funds are allocated from time to time, as per requirement.
IR has advertised its plan to redevelop ‘A-1’ and ‘A’ category stations on ‘as is where is’ basis, by inviting proposals from developers with their designs and business ideas. The cost of the project is to be met by leveraging commercial development of land and air space in and around the stations.
The station buildings will be at par with airport infrastructure with separate terminals for arrival and departure. Tirupati station, being an ‘A-1’ category station, is in the list of stations which are proposed to be offered for redevelopment, subject to viability. The work on development of Habibganj as the first world class station is already on and the bids are being finalised for the other stations including Anand Vihar and Bijwasan stations in Delhi, Gandhinagar and Surat in Gujarat, SAS Nagar in Mohali and Shivaji Nagar in Pune.
DOUBLING/TRIPLING OF RAILWAY LINES
The Government of India has approved 5 Doubling/Tripling projects worth Rs.10,739 Crore on 25.05.2016. Zone-wise details are as under:-
Indian Railways is moving ahead with time in terms of planning and implementing the green initiatives to protect the environment. The plans includes providing solar panel on roof top of coaches for train lighting system, bio-toilets, use of bio-diesel, CNG DMU, water recycling plants, setting up of solar and wind power plants, 1000 MW solar power plants is targeted to be set up over the next 5 years.
SECURITY MEASURES AND CLEANLINESS DRIVE
Railway has proposed to install Close Circuit Television (CCTV) Cameras at 983 stations under Nirbhaya Fund to ensure safety of women passengers. In addition, CCTV cameras have been provided at 344 railway stations over Indian Railways. Instructions have been issued to zonal Railways for extending the use of CCTVs for monitoring cleanliness activities performed by the cleaning staff. A total of 983 railway stations right down to category ‘C’ stations have been included in the proposal for provision of CCTV cameras under Nirbhaya Fund.
Indian Railways is leaving no stone unturned in trying to provide world class service across the country. In trying to achieve macro objective, the railways is continuously faltering on the micro issues which are more important for an average citizen. Indian Railways has so far no solution to dispel congestion in the economic capital of the country i.e. Mumbai. The suburban rail network is choked up carrying lakhs of passengers daily in inhuman conditions at a crab speed of not even 45 kmph. The cleanliness drive is promoted to a great extent but as a passenger you can still see hardly any improvement despite paying additional Swachch Bharat cess to the Government. In many a places, even the Trash seems to be missing. Every now and then one can read stories of derailment happening in some sector of the other. Security concern is not yet addressed fully. Ticket queues are still the same and growing. With lot of promise and action, still people are finding it difficult to get confirmed tickets in train even when tickets are being booked well in advance. Tatkal scheme is just a money minting machine for the government and promotes social disparity and not equality.
The intention and the schemes of the government can be trusted with the hope that someday the travel by Indian Railways would be a smooth affair for not only the classes but the masses of the country. Business opportunities are immense and exploding like anything before. So, it’s time for the B2B segment to keep tab of the railway sector and catch with the project and opportunities that is already there or coming up next.