2020-2021 fiscal has been one of the huge achievements for the Indian Railways on numerous fronts, including infrastructure development, freight, and electrification, according to Suneet Sharma, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Railway Board.
In an exclusive interaction with The New Indian Express, Sharma said the capital expenditure on infrastructure development during the current financial year was far higher than the previous years. “We expect capital expenditure of Rs 1.61 lakh crore. If you look back, the average capital expenditure used to be in the range of Rs 45,000-50,000 crore in Indian Railways.”
On the electrification front, Railways covered between 4,000 -4,500 km during an average year. “We already covered 4,900 km (up to March 26) and around 25 inspections of railway sections are lined up before March 31. We expect to do 6,000 km of electrification this year, the highest ever in a year by the Indian Railways,” the chairman said. The move will increase the speed of rail as well as reduce the carbon footprint in the environment.
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Aim To Increase Freight Share Contribution To 45% By 2050
“Freight loading by Indian Railways has surpassed last year’s numbers at 1,213 million tonnes this year, as compared to 1210 mn tonnes last year, and this figure will increase as the year is not yet over,” Sharma said. The dedicated freight portal, (https://www.fois.indianrail.gov.in/RailSAHAY), launched on January 6 this year, has received a tremendous response,” CEO Suneet Sharma added. A vision document has been readied which is part of National Rail Plan 2030.
Railways is the engine of economic growth in the country. We have surpassed last year’s freight loading through freight incentives, discounts and friendly freight policies,” he added.
“The Indian Railways aims to increase freight contribution to 45% compared to 27% now as part of the long-term vision,” he explained. Railway scrap has also been generating considerable revenue. “A total of Rs 4,420 crore was earned till March 27. We have a few more days for the year to conclude and will be able to touch Rs 4,450 crore, our highest ever scrap sales.” A total of 100 stations across the country, where land can be monetized, have been identified for development.
According to Sharma, Indian Railways doled out multiple tariff incentives which have helped improve freight loading. These include 5% and 25% discount on loaded and empty containers respectively, 40% discount on fly ash, withdrawal of busy season surcharge of 15%, and reclassification of Indian salt.
Further, the Indian Railways introduced several non-tariff incentives including liberalization of the wagon and terminal investment schemes, reduction in punitive charges, and improving the fleet of wagons amongst others which further made Railway freight loading attractive.
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