The Railway Budget of 2009, presented by the then Railway Minister, Mamata Banerjee, highlighted a vision for the future, which was adopted by the government as Vision 2020. It is meant to address four strategic national goals, namely
Inclusive development, both geographically and socially
Strengthening national integration
Large-scale generation of productive employment
Some of the basic aspects of Vision 2020 are the following:
Growth with jobs and not jobless growth: Productive employment opportunities, especially for our youth and preferably in their own habitats
Reducing emissions: Reducing hazardous carbon emissions that have triggered climate change
Increasing gross revenue with respect to GDP: Making gross revenue of Indian Railways from around 1.2% of India's GDP to 3% of GDP
Improving freight and passenger services: Segregating freight and passenger services, creating adequate capacity and raising speeds of both freight and passenger trains would be the key challenges to Indian Railways’ retaining its market share and improve upon it
Improving growth: To realise the full potential of Indian Railways, it must achieve an annual growth of 10% over the next 10 years. The vision document proposes to add 25,000 km of new tracks by 2020, including completing the backlog of railway lines already sanctioned, supported by government funding and majorly increase public-private partnerships (PPPs).
The Vision 2020 document can be broadly said to envision the following points:
Doubling and quadrupling of lines:
More than 30,000 km would be of double/multiple lines. More than 6,000 km would be quadrupled lines with segregation of passenger and freight services into separate double-line corridors.
Completing segregation of passenger and freight lines on high density network (HDN) routes, as well as on other routes.
Electrifying busy trunk routes: 33,000 km would be electrified.
Raising maximum speed of passenger trains would be from 110-130 kmph to 160-200 kmph. Raising maximum speed of freight trains from 60-70 kmph to over 100 kmph. Introducing at least four high-speed railway projects to provide bullet train services at 250-350 kmph.
Completing gauge conversion programme
Augmenting the capacity of the railway network is imperative as road transportation capacity is bulging at the seams. India's network of national highways comprises 2% of the country's road system and carries 40% of the traffic. Finding land to meet the ever-rising requirements of road expansion and resources to meet the rising cost of fossil fuels will impose prohibitive costs on the economy. Doubling and quadrupling of railway tracks, and segregating them would enable the increasing of the capacity of the railways as well as efficient handling of that capacity.
Using advanced technologies at level crossings, as nearly 70% of fatalities in railway accidents occur at these points.
It must be mentioned though that the railways’ safety record is much better than that of roads. In 2007, more than 113,000 people were killed and 513,000 were injured in road accidents in the country. In contrast, during 2008-09, there were 177 accidents (down steadily from 320 during 2003-04) and 207 persons were killed. With well-planned and directed investments, Railways can be made virtually accident-free.
Number of passengers carried by the Railways will grow from 8,200 million during 2011-12 to 15,180 million during 2019-20, and passenger kilometer will grow from 1100 billion to 2,360 billion during the same period.
The trunk routes of Railways, comprising merely 16% of the network, carry more than 50% of the traffic.
Transforming, by 2020, the Railways’ passenger services from a supply-constrained business to an available-on-demand business.
Upgrading the quality of services, in terms of punctuality, safety, security, sanitation, cleanliness, catering and other value-added services, both at stations and on board trains, to match the best in the world.
Improving the speed of trains to 160-200 kmph on segregated passenger corridors would be necessary.
Introducing new suburban trains in Mumbai with regenerative braking features, saving upto 35-40% of energy.
Forming Indian Railways Metro Development Authority for developing of Metro rail services.
Increasing the production of passenger coaches from 2,500 per annum to 10,000 per annum in stages. This will fully satisfy the demand for railway travel as well as make India an export hub for modern passenger coaches.
Making Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Kolkata passenger routes overnight services.
Inducting lightweight stainless steel coaches, double-decker coaches and longer trains.
Increasing the production of high-horsepower, fuel-efficient diesel locomotives and inducting new-generation locomotives and rolling stock.
Saving up to 15% energy through an improved energy efficiency in both traction, and annually reducing 0.14 million tonnes of carbon monoxide emissions.
Making journeys on Indian Railways pleasant, fast, punctual, comfortable, clean, and, hence, memorable.
Ensuring that no train traveller has to wait for more than 5 minutes for getting a ticket even in the unreserved category.
Transforming freight services by segregating freight and passenger corridors, constructing dedicated freight corridors, improving the speed of transit, and creating cost efficiencies in bulk transport, and meeting the needs of customers in terms of service delivery, logistics services, transit time and tariff.
Increasing originating freight loading to 2165 MT and net tonne kilometres to 1407 billion during 2019-20.
Increasing Railways’ share in freight movement (with respect to road transport) to at least 50% by 2019-20.
Increasing annual procurement of wagons from 25,000 to around 75,000.
Operationalising two dedicated freight corridors (DFCs), Ludhiana-Dankuni route and Mumbai-Delhi route, well before 2020.
Starting work on four more DFCs – North-South (Delhi to Chennai), East-West (Howrah to Mumbai), Southern (Chennai to Goa) and East Coast (Kharagpur to Vijaywada).
Increasing parcel service five-fold by 2020, from the present level of around Rs 1600 crore per annum.
It is important to note that heavy-haul freight operations are common in USA, China and Russia with trains carrying in excess of 20,000 tonnes each compared to 5000 tonnes in India.
TELECOM & IT
Railways can think of launching a separate TV channel to disseminate information and earn revenues through advertisement.
Tapping revenue generation potential in the telecom and IT sector, using the 64,000-km long 'right of way' for laying optic fibres, signalling towers and other infrastructure assets.
Designing modern coaches including double-decker coaches.
Re-designing second class coaches to make them more comfortable.
Designing high-capacity wagons.
Reducing cost of operations by enhancing productivity and asset life.
Introducing anti-collision devices and protecting level crossings for improving safety and reliability of operations to achieve zero accidents and zero failure in equipments.
Raising the speed of trains.
Improving the interface with passengers and freight customers.
Introducing ticketing through mobile phones.
Improving control and voice/video communication to aid IT applications across the Indian Railways.
Introducing satellite-based train tracking system to provide real-time information on train location and other train-related information to passengers through a variety of devices including mobile phones.
Having green toilets in all coaches.
Introducing mechanical cleaning of trains, stations and platforms, and giving requisite training to railway employees to use technology for maximum recycling of water.=
Managing waste, with the aim of achieving ‘near-zero waste’, by adopting the principle of 3 Rs – reduction, recycle, reuse.
Railway research centres should attract hundreds of young and talented persons with fresh minds, ready to tackle the most difficult challenges.
The vision is not to privatise, but enhance the effectiveness and accountability of Indian Railways through necessary reforms at all levels.
As a corporate policy, Indian Railways has set itself a goal of 1% reduction in the sanctioned strength per annum, assuming a 3% annual natural attrition, to reach an equilibrium level of right-sized staff strength.
It has been tentatively assessed that 64% of the investment of roughly Rs 14,00,000 crore needed for augmentation of capacity, upgradation and modernisation of the railways in the next 10 years could be mobilised by Indian Railways itself through surpluses from high growth in freight and passenger traffic, supported by prudent borrowing and use of PPP initiatives.
Setting up an Accelerated Rail Development Fund (ARDF) to finance the remaining 36% to the tune of Rs 5 lakh crore to be spent over the next 10 years.
To achieve the mammoth task Indian Railways has set for itself, it has to concentrate on its core activity of creating railway infrastructure and efficiently operating them, and forging partnerships with the private sector to do the rest. The challenge of project execution and efficient provision of service cannot be accomplished without involving the private sector in a big way.
All railways minister follow Mamata's Vision 2020, yet never acknowledge.
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