Date of Post: 12 June, 2018
Union Minister for Railways and Coal, Shri Piyush Goyal, on Monday, addressed the media on the four-year achievements of the ministries under his charge. Shri Goyal was joined by Minister of State of Communication (I/c) & Railways, Shri Manoj Sinha and Minister of State of Railways, Shri Rajen Gohain (through Guwahati VC link), and also Shri Ashwani Lohani, Chairman Railway Board on the occasion. Shri Goyal also interacted via video conferencing with media present at 12 cities – Ahmedabad, Bhopal, Chennai, Guwahati, Imphal, Jaipur, Kolkata, Lucknow, Pune, Patna, Raipur, Ranchi. Shri Piyush Goyal released a booklet highlighting the achievements in the Railways and Coal Ministries in the past four years. Two mobile Applications – the ‘Rail Madad’ and ‘Menu on Rails’ were also launched on the occasion.
Shri Goyal reiterated Government’s resolve of Service to the Nation under the visionary leadership of Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, whose 150th birth anniversary will be celebrated in 2019.
In the past four years, the Government has made safety the top priority of Indian Railways keeping in mind the philosophy of ‘Saaf Niyat, Sahi Vikas’. Safety has reigned supreme with consequential train accidents reduced to 62% from 118 in 2013-14 to 73 in 2017-18. Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh (RRSK) fund of Rs. 1 Lakh Cr has been allocated for safety expenditure over 5 years. Addressing the issue of unsafe crossings on a war footing, 5,479 Unmanned Level Crossings have been eliminated in the last four years. 1.1 lakh safety posts are also being filled-up through recruitment amongst other measures to improve safety.
Laying the foundations of infrastructure for a New India, there has been a quantum leap in capital expenditure, with the average annual capital expenditure in last 4 years being more than double of average during 2009-14. Railways is connecting India at a faster pace with a 59% increase in the average pace of commissioning new lines from 4.1 km (2009-14) to 6.53 Kms per day (2014-18).
Commuter travel in urban India received a boost with major investments earmarked for Bengaluru suburban system (Rs. 17,000 Crore in Budget 2018-19) and Mumbai suburban system (Rs 54,777 crore in Budget 2018-19) for upgradation and better infrastructure. The Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-speed Rail (HSR) will revolutionise the transport sector in India through speed, safety and service. Besides the Make in India benefits from the HSR project, Railways is creating large scale employment and economic development through a host of upcoming projects in Latur, Marathwada; New Bongaigaon, Assam; Lumding, Assam; Jhansi, Bundelkhand and Sonepat, Haryana. Railways has embarked on transitioning to sustainable rail transport with a six times increase in electrification from 610 RKM during 2013-14 to 4,087 RKM during 2017-18.
Railways has achieved significant milestones in moving the country’s economy better with the highest ever freight loading of 1,162 MT in 2017-18 and 1,107 MT in 2016-17. Freight earnings have also shot up with a 12% increase expected over the previous year, projected to be Rs. 1.17 Lakh Cr in 2017-18. The commissioning of Dedicated Freight Corridors in phases by 2019-20 will further boost the Indian economy.
Railways is improving passenger services including a complete makeover of Stations by installing modern facilities including escalators, lifts, free wifi etc. while instilling local art and culture in the design. 68 stations are slated for improvement by March 2019. Government has improved trains and coaches including launching the Tejas, Antyodaya and Humsafar trains. Catering to passengers’ travel and comfort needs, 407 new train services have been launched in last four years with 1.37 lakh services to meet festival demand. Catering has also been a focus area with compulsory printing of MRP on all food items started on more than 300 Trains, and use of artificial intelligence to monitor food production in base kitchens for improving quality and hygiene.
Punctuality in the short-term has been impacted due to giving priority to infrastructure and safety works but in the long-term this would enable faster and safer train movement. Time tabling of trains has been improved by reducing running time and allowing planned maintenance blocks. SMS services have been started on 1,373 trains for informing passengers about any delay in trains.
To commemorate the 150th Birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, Indian Railways is also contributing its bit. There has been a major focus on cleanliness, Swacchata including third party independent surveys, introduction of Integrated Mechanized cleaning, bio-toilets, Automatic Rail-mounted machine to clear muck etc.
Indian Railways has also focused on digital initiatives and transparency and accountability. E- reverse auction policy being introduced, which could help save approximately Rs. 20,000 crore. Simpler approval processes in Research Designs and Standards Organisation reduced process timeline from 30 months to 6 months.
Recognising the significance of empowering and upskilling the 13+ lakh railway family, various steps have been taken including delegation of powers. India’s First National Rail & Transportation University in Vadodara is set to open in August 2018. From employee empowerment to new avenues for skilling, Railways is injecting a new drive in the workforce to ensure Railways becomes the lifeline that can power the Indian economy and fulfil the aspirations of 1.3 billion Indians.