Business Standard

New rail corridors to cost ~11 trn, add 40K km of tracks: Vaishnaw

- DHRUVAKSH SAHA New Delhi, 1 February

The three rail corridors announced by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in the Interim Budget of 2024-25 will cost the Centre ~11 trillion and add 40,000 kilometres (km) of tracks to the already existing railway network, Ashwini Vaishnaw, union minister for railways, said on Thursday.

“Once the three corridors are completed, we will have enough capacity that the problem of waiting lists will be over,” he added.

According to the minister, the national transporte­r has taken its learnings from the developmen­t of Vande Bharat and Amrit Bharat trains and will use these to upgrade 40,000 bogies for a safer and speedier experience.

These changes, he said, will be undertaken across air-conditione­d and non-air conditione­d coaches over a period of five years.

“The Budget has laid the foundation for the blueprint of railway modernisat­ion. It lays out the roadmap to increase passenger capacity to 10 billion from 7 billion. Secondly, it is important for safety that tracks are not congested with ample time for maintenanc­e and repair. Thirdly, a new form of train service is envisioned,” Vaishnaw said.

The national transporte­r is expected to have an operating ratio of 98.7 per cent in the current financial year.

“All our pension expenses are being financed through internal revenues. There is very strict discipline in the railways when it comes to finances. Secondly, the benefits of electrific­ation are visible now. There are continuous stretches which are fully electrifie­d now, providing seamless connectivi­ty. Our diesel consumptio­n has significan­tly reduced now,” he said, in response to a query by Business

“By the end of January, we spent 82 per cent of allocated capital expenditur­e (~2.4 trillion), which is significan­t considerin­g that work continued despite elections. Next year, we are poised to spend ~2.52 trillion (from budgetary allocation­s),” Vaishnaw said.

Freight earnings have been a cause of concern for the sector, as capacity expansion works and commercial factors have slowed down the railways’ momentum in its profitable freight service. The ministry had kept a target of ~1.75 trillion in revenue from goods, which it has revised down by nearly ~10,000 crore in the Revised Estimates for the current financial year.

Vaishnaw clarified that the freight performanc­e has been good considerin­g the complex challenges of capacity constraint­s.

“There still is huge congestion, where capacity has to be added significan­tly, but train services also have to be running. We

cannot stop entire corridors like other countries,” he said.

The minister also said that talks on the India-middle East Economic Corridor (IMEC) are moving rapidly.

“IMEC is progressin­g very well. Conceptual­ly, alignments missing links in the trade route have been identified and there is clarity that this is one big insurance against any disruption­s in trade routes,” he said.

 ?? ?? Once the three corridors are completed, there will be enough capacity to deal with the problem of waiting lists, Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said
Once the three corridors are completed, there will be enough capacity to deal with the problem of waiting lists, Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said

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