An expert group set up to suggest ways of modernising Indian Railways has proposed a `mission mode' approach to incorporating new technology and increasing sales, involving funding to the tune of Rs822,671 crore over the next five years.
The expert group, constituted by the ministry of railways with Sam Pitroda, advisor to the Prime Minister, as its chairman, presented its report to railway minister Dinesh Trivedi at a function in New Delhi yesterday.
The group has suggested adoption of public-private partnership (PPP) model for augmenting core capabilities of the Railways by attracting private investment in areas like new stations and terminals, high-speed railway lines, elevated rail corridor, freight terminals, leasing of wagons, loco and coach manufacturing, captive power generation and renewable energy projects.
Indian Railways needs to develop substantial indigenous capabilities such as state-of-the-art technologies, components and equipment to be a global leader, the report says.
Towards this, the group has highlighted 15 focus areas, namely, track and bridges, signalling, rolling stock, stations and terminals, PPPs, land, dedicated freight corridors, high-speed trains, review of existing and proposed projects, ICT, indigenous development, safety, funding, human resource and organisation.
The group also suggested the setting up of an Indian Institute of Railway Research with centres of excellence, development of Indian standards and critical vendors and protocols for railways.
Some of the major recommendations of this expert group are:
- Modernisation of 19,000 km of existing tracks.
- Strengthening of 11,250 bridges to sustain higher load at higher speeds.
- Elimination of all level crossings.
- Implementation of automatic block signalling on A and B routes.
- Deployment of on-board train protection system with cab signalling on all other routes.
- Introduction of GSM-based mobile train control communication system on A, B and C routes.
- Introduction of new generation locomotives – electric locomotive of 9000 and 12,000 HP and high horse power diesel locomotives of 5,500 HP.
- Introduction of high-speed potential LHB coaches with 160/200 kmph.
- Introduction of train sets for high-speed inter-city travel.
- Introduction of heavy haul freight bogies.
- Installation of green toilets on all passenger trains.
- Modernisation of 100 major stations.
- Development of 34 multi modal logistics hubs.
- Setting up real time information system.
- Provision of internet access at 342 railway stations (58 A1 class and 284 at A class)
- Construction of Eastern and Western freight corridors.
- Construction of North-South, East-West, East-Coast and Southern dedicated freight corridors covering 6,200 km in the next ten years.
- Construction of a high-speed railway line between Ahmedabad and Mumbai with speed of 300 kmph.
- Offer graduate programme in railway technology at IITs and railway management at IIMs as also review and restructure of existing training institutions.
- Re-organising Railway Board along business discipline and rename chairman as CEO.
- Empower zonal railways in investment decision making along with accountability for return on capital, transport output, safety, and profitability.
- Revamping of accounting systems on business lines and creation of profit/cost centres.
- Appointing a 'PPP Ombudsman' to resole disputes.
- Constitute a Railways Tariff Regulatory Authority to provide a level playing field.
According to the report, of the total funding requirements of Rs822,671 crore over the next five years Rs250,000 crore has to come as budgetary support while Rs201,805 crore would come from internal accruals. Of the remaining, Rs229,024 crore would come from PPPs, Rs101,000 crore from leasing/borrowings, Rs24,000 crore from dividend rebate and Rs16,842 crore from the Road Safety Fund.
Besides Sam Pitroda, the experts group included HDFC Bank chairman Deepak Parekh, former chairman of State Bank of India M S Verma, IIM-Ahmedabad professor G Raghuram, IDFC managing director Dr Rajiv Lall, Infrastructure Services Limited chairman (feedback) Vinayak Chatterjee and Advisor (infrastructure) Railway Board Ranjan Jain.