Sug­gest­ing a roadmap for growth

A Com­mit­tee formed by In­dian Rail­ways sub­mit­ted a doc­u­ment to the Rail­way Min­is­ter point­ing out bot­tle­necks that have hin­dered its growth. Mohd Jamshed, AM(C&IS), Chair­man, Com­mit­tee on Traf­fic Op­ti­mi­sa­tion, MoR di­vulges de­tails about the roadmap would en


Q How did the Com­mit­tee ap­prox­i­mate growth in freight traf­fic be­tween 9 and 15 per cent de­spite the growth recorded at four per cent dur­ing the last four years?

A Com­mit­tee was con­sti­tuted by the Min­istry of Rail­ways to iden­tify fac­tors and is­sues af­fect­ing growth of traf­fic (freight and pas­sen­ger) and sug­gest a plan of ac­tion for Traf­fic Op­ti­mi­sa­tion in the short term (dur­ing 2015-16) and long term (2018-19). Var­i­ous seg­ments of growth in freight and pas­sen­ger traf­fic were crit­i­cally ex­am­ined, that is on the freight side growth of orig­i­nat­ing load­ing, NTKMs and freight earn­ings were dis­cussed.

The Com­mit­tee made a thor­ough anal­y­sis of traf­fic pat­terns and trans­porta­tion out­put of In­dian Rail­ways for the last few decades, par­tic­u­larly, dur­ing the last five years. The Com­mit­tee as­sessed the po­ten­tial traf­fic de­mand for rail trans­porta­tion of var­i­ous sec­tors based on the pro­jec­tion given by the core sec­tors. Pro­jec­tions from coal sec­tor alone in­di­cate in­crease in coal pro­duc­tion from around 750 mil­lion tonnes in 2014-15 to 1500 mil­lion tonnes by 2020. As­sum­ing that these pro­jec­tions will ma­te­ri­alise, this com­mod­ity alone should be able to gen­er­ate coal trans­porta­tion de­mand for In­dian Rail­ways to more than 1000 mil­lion tonnes by 2020. The growth po­ten­tial of In­dian Rail­ways as­sessed by the Com­mit­tee for orig­i­nat­ing freight load­ing is more than 1500 mil­lion tonnes by 2018-19, which is much be­low the es­ti­mates in­di­cated in In­dian Rail­ways Vi­sion 2020 doc­u­ment of De­cem­ber 2009.

The Com­mit­tee has given the caveat that more than nine per cent growth would be achiev­able only with the re­moval of short-term and long-term iden­ti­fied bot­tle­necks and by bring­ing about rec­om­mended sys­tem im­prove­ments and pol­icy changes. The great leap for­ward of 15 per cent growth will come only af­ter com­mis­sion­ing of Eastern and Western DFCs by the end of 2019.

Q What are the bot­tle­necks that have hin­dered the growth of freight traf­fic till date?

The Com­mit­tee has made a re­al­is­tic ex­am­i­na­tion of the ex­ist­ing bot­tle­necks on the Zonal Rail­ways that im­pacts the growth of traf­fic. These have been cat­e­gorised as Net­work Ca­pac­ity Man­age­ment, Ter­mi­nal Ca­pac­ity Man­age­ment, Wagon & Loco Man­age­ment, Pay Load Man­age­ment and Crew Man­age­ment. The long-term bot­tle­necks are iden­ti­fied as wagon aug­men­ta­tion, junction and ter­mi­nal aug­men­ta­tion, in­duc­tion of wagon stocks (both public and pri­vate sec­tor), avail­abil­ity of lo­co­mo­tives and in­duc­tion of crew.

Q What changes are re­quired in rolling stock and in­fra­struc­ture main­te­nance prac­tices to achieve the po­ten­tial es­ti­mated by Com­mit­tee?

The rec­om­men­da­tions for sys­tem im­prove­ment are pri­mar­ily those which carry for­ward in­no­va­tive mea­sures al­ready be­ing taken by the Zonal Rail­ways. The rec­om­men­da­tions in this re­gard are two-fold, i.e., meant for pol­icy ini­tia­tives by the Min­istry of Rail­ways and those to be un­der­taken at Zonal Rail­ways level. Higher ca­pac­ity and higher speed wag­ons have to be in­ducted in the sys­tem on pri­or­ity, main­te­nance prac­tices, es­pe­cially, rou­tine over­haul and pe­ri­od­i­cal over­haul main­te­nance has to be looked into in the back­drop of lim­ited ca­pac­ity in the work­shops and the ex­am­i­na­tion cy­cles may have to be ex­tended for longer pe­ri­ods for im­prov­ing wagon avail­abil­ity and re­duc­ing wagon turn­around.

Q How long would it take for the ca­pac­ity of the ex­ist­ing ter­mi­nals to be aug­mented and pri­vate freight ter­mi­nals to come up?

Ca­pac­ity of the ex­ist­ing ter­mi­nals is be­ing aug­mented by power houses, in­dus­tries and con­tainer op­er­a­tors. It has been rec­om­mended that de­vel­op­ment of pri­vate freight ter­mi­nals should be en­cour­aged and the pol­icy should be lib­er­alised. This has also been an­nounced in the Rail­way Bud­get by the Min­is­ter for Rail­ways.

Q What are the steps sug­gested by the Com­mit­tee for lib­er­al­i­sa­tion of Wagon ca­pac­ity scheme?

Wagon ca­pac­ity scheme should also be lib­er­alised to en­able in­vest­ments in wagon leas­ing and in­duc­tion of wag­ons. The Com­mit­tee has sug­gested in­duc­tion of wag­ons through PPP ar­range­ments with PSUs and also from pri­vate sec­tor in large num­ber for cater­ing to the de­mands of traf­fic in spec­i­fied cir­cuits.

Q Does In­dian Rail­ways plan to make use of satel­lite ser­vices for safety of cargo too?

In­dian Rail­ways has to mod­ernise its sys­tems to achieve the de­sired goals. Use of satel­lite ser­vices for oper­a­tions, safety and other IT ap­pli­ca­tions has be­come es­sen­tial. Satel­lite­based in­for­ma­tion could en­able au­to­matic cap­ture of train move­ment, data for au­to­matic con­trol chart­ing, ac­cu­rate pas­sen­ger in­for­ma­tion through NTES, real time in­for­ma­tion on freight trains, elim­i­nat­ing re­quire­ment of track side equip­ment, train track­ing ap­pli­ca­tion and even its po­ten­tial use for in-cab sig­nalling along with its use as an aux­il­iary col­li­sion avoid­ance sys­tem and var­i­ous other ex­tended ben­e­fits. Satel­lite ser­vice would cer­tainly take care of safety of cargo through live track­ing. The Com­mit­tee has rec­om­mended that the In­dian Rail­ways should move for­ward in this di­rec­tion on a proac­tive ba­sis.

Mohd Jamshed AM(C&IS), Chair­man, Com­mit­tee on Traf­fic Op­ti­miza­tion, Min­istry of Rail­ways

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