In a signification decision, the union cabinet today approved electrification of the entire unelectrified portion of broad-gauge railway lines of Indian Railways. The decision was taken in a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, which was chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Briefing reporters after the cabinet meeting, Railway minister Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said that major routes of Railways have already been electrified and are operational. Considering the requirement for seamless travel across the railway network, the bottlenecks caused by the requirement of change of locomotives need to be removed. The electrification of balance lines will increase operational efficiency, enhance the capacity of the lines and also improve the average speed of trains.
The Railway minister said that after electrification of the entire rail network is completed, the dependence on imported petroleum fuels will reduce, which in turn will improve the energy security of the country. He said, “After the planned electrification, consumption of high-speed diesel oil will reduce by about 2.83 billion litres per annum with a reduction in GHG emissions. This will also reduce the environmental impact of Railways.”
This electrification of the un-electrified broad-gauge routes will be done at a cost of ₹12,134.50 crores, which will cover 13,675 route kilometres of railway lines in 108 railways sections. The govt has set a target of 2021-22 to complete this project.
The minister informed that at present around two-thirds of freight and more than half of passenger traffic on Indian Railways move on electric traction. But, the electric traction accounts for only 37% of total energy expenses of Indian Railways. Due to this difference, after total electrification is completed, Indian Railway is expected to save ₹13,510 crore per year in fuel expenses, and this will, in turn, improve its financial position. The approved electrification will generate direct employment of about 20.4 crore man-days during the period of construction, he added.
The current NDA govt has been giving high priority to electrification of the railway network. In the financial year 2017-18, a total of 3,155 route kilometres of tracks were electrified, which was highest ever electrification done in a single year.
The new ingenuously built electric locomotives deliver a power of 5000 HP, which is 92% more than they older locomotives. Therefore, total electrification will help in enhancing the haulage capacity of trains and lines. This move will also increase the average speed of trains as there will be no need to change locomotives when a train enters a non-electrified line from an electrified line, or vice-versa. Electrification of tracks also helps in improving the signalling system, which enhances safety on the tracks. The move will also reduce carbon emission to the tune of 24%.