The railways have lined up a vast expansion plan, including more than doubling the freight capacity and adding new high-speed trains for which 10 corridors with a cumulative length of about 6,000 km have been identified.
The transporter has already moved a proposal to looks for Cabinet approval, which includes permission to carry out a feasibility study and a detailed project report for the 10 possible bullet train corridors. Segments on the radar cover Delhi-Mumbai, Delhi-Kolkata, Delhi-Amritsar, Patna-Kolkata, and Chennai-Bengaluru. Sources said these will require an investment of about Rs 10 lakh crore over 10 years. “This plan is very preliminary,” a source stated.
Presently, there is one high-speed train corridor — Ahmedabad-Mumbai — under implementation.
The immediate aim is on adding 17,000km to the existing 1.2 lakh km rail network, which will entail an investment of over Rs 5 lakh crore and will be funded through extra-budgetary borrowings, sources familiar with the plan told TOI. The plan covers trebling the rail tracks along the Golden Quadrilateral and other lines with the objective being to win back traffic from roads.
Separately, three new freight corridors have been explained on the lines of the Delhi-Mumbai and Amritsar-Kolkata DFCs.
It has been proposed that a large chunk of funding for these projects could come from multilateral funding agencies like the World Bank, JICA and the Asian Development Bank.
‘Rail-on-rail’ flyovers to decongest junctions
Railway ministry officials stated that there is a three-pronged strategy to augment the capacity of railways and increase its network. The National Rail Capacity Augmentation Plan, or Rail VistaarPariyojna, will focus on increasing the carrying capacity for both passengers and freight, particularly to grow the share of freight transported through railways, to 45-50% as compared to the current trend of 30%.
The tripling of Jalgaon-Wardha, Guddur-Chennai, and Mumbai-Chennai would be undertaken. Another 14 sections on other highly utilized network routes would be covered under this project. The total tripling is anticipated to be 4,286km.
In its bid to decongest major junctions, the railways have also launched a blueprint of building “rail-on-rail” flyovers and bypasses at 222 locations. Railway minister Piyush Goyal had recently said a roadmap is being prepared for this.
After ignoring all unmanned crossings, the next big step would be eliminating the 7,000 manned crossings with rail overbridges and rail underbridges.
All these works would need about Rs 5.7 lakh crore and the government estimates these works will generate 9.6 lakh jobs and will also push the demand for cement and steel to the tune of 21 lakh tonnes in each case.