Indian Railways which is said to be one of the longest across the globe is also the biggest government undertaking in India. It is divided into 16 zones according to areas to facilitate services in the country. But now, it is going through rapid transformation, from free wi-fi network at railway stations to clean platforms, Railway is working on a lot of aspects. Earlier there used to be a separate railway budget but from 2017-18, the railway budget was merged with the general budget. Now, allocation and plans for railways are mentioned in the general budget.
A capital outlay of 2.40 lakh crore has been given to Railways. This is the highest ever outlay since 2013-14.
Major Announcements in Budget 2023-24
100 critical transport infrastructure projects for connecting from beginning to end or last mile connectivity will be facilitated.
100% electrification and multitrack routes are at the priority of the government in 2023-24 as per the budget announcements.
In the National Rail Plan, also. Government has envisaged the same along with upgrading the speed of important routes and also at golden quadrilateral routes.
Union Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw in an interview expressed gratitude for the huge amount of allocation in Railways.
He emphasized on the fact that 10 years back, railways used to make just 4 km of track daily, now this figure has shot up to 12 km per day. Now, the government is planning to hike it to 16 km per day. This shows the progress in development and expediting the speed of trains. It also projects the vision of last mile connectivity. Making new tracks, doubling them and also renovating them along with railway stations.
The Union Minister told about the Amrit Bharat Station Scheme, 1275 stations will witness revamping. So, this is the mission to transform railways to make it well equipped with the latest technologies and infrastructure.
Last year, the government completed the 3000 km of Kavach. Now, in the upcoming year 5000 km will be targeted. Covering tracks under Kavach will ensure a safe and happy journey of trains.
What is the Kavach system?
In the railway system, 'Kavach' is the Automatic Train Protection System which prevents train accidents. It was announced in previous years' budget.
Since 2012, this system has been known as TCAS(Train Collision Avoidance System) and it is being called the Kavach system. Installed mechanism of RFID(Radio Frequency Identification) works locomotives. Currently, we are using the SIL-4 (Safety Integrity Level). It has high safety features which stops the train from collision, hence ensures a safe journey.
Cargo share of Railways which has slipped to 27% in comparison with freight through roads. With such magnificent revamping of railways, 29-30% of freight share will come back to Railways in the upcoming year.
The production of Vande Bharat which was limited to ISF Chennai till now, will be expanded and 3 new plants will be added. These three plants are in Latur in Maharashtra, Raebareli in UP and Sonipat in Haryana.
Currently, 8 Vande Bharat trains are running efficiently in India. If we talk about their speed and coverage, they have set a milestone in trains. To ramp up production and make 7-8 trains per week is the goal of Railways from now onwards. The Union Minister also said that close to 500 trains are in the pipeline and will be ready soon. Government has also planned to make world class material to make it export worthy.
Railway was losing its significance due to low investment and attention but now, this huge amount will help in transformation for betterment.
Recently, Railways placed an order for 85000 wagons which shows the increasing potential of Railways which has generated demand for more.
The mission to run the first hydrogen train will be accomplished by 2023. These kinds of trains will cover heritage locations of India. These hydrogen trains will be made in India which will further boost the domestic manufacturing and push employment rates upwards.
Special facts about Indian Railways