Indian Railways is ushering into a new era of train travel, by implementing transit-oriented development at railway stations and operating private trains, to be able to provide a world-class airport-like experience to railway passengers. Special purpose vehicles (SPV's) of the Railway Ministry such as Indian Railways Station Development Corporation (IRSDC), Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Limited (DFCCIL), Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA), and few others are currently involved in nationwide railway infrastructure projects. These include the railway station redevelopment program, high-speed bullet train corridor, dedicated freight corridor project, railway land monetization, which will provide an impetus to the growth and sutainability of the sector. (Also Read: Bullet Train Project: Sabarmati Terminal To Be The Only Station With Multimodal Transit Hub)
In 2020, some significant developments have pushed the infrastructural growth of the railway network even though the COVID-19 pandemic affected the economy. Some of the key developments of this year in the Indian Railways network are as follows:
Indian Railways' Key Developments In 2020:
1. Dedicated Freight Corridor:
- The Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Limited (DFCCIL), responsible for developing the dedicated freight corridor (DFC) project, recently announced that Indian Railways will be operating its freight trains on 40 per cent of the corridor by next year. The DFC is one of the largest railway infrastructure projects in the country and is being implemented at a cost of ₹ 81,459 crore.
Enhancing Infrastructure, Ensuring Safety:— Ministry of Railways (@RailMinIndia) December 1, 2020
DFCCIL work on western DFC is progressing swiftly. In this series, DFCCIL has launched ten no.of girders to make Road Over Bridge at LC 46 in Rewari.
This Road over Bridge at LC 46 will ensure better safety for users in this area. pic.twitter.com/CS9wJ7NyWT
- Around 40 per cent of the DFC route is expected to be completed in 2020-21 which will lead to areas such as Kanpur, Rewari, Khurja, Ajmer, Dadri, Palanpur getting connected to Gujarat ports by the end of 2021. The 1856 km long eastern DFC and 1504 km long western DFC are currently being implemented across the railway network. Apart from these, three more corridors - East Coast, East-West, and the North-South Sub-Corridor are also planned for implementation.
2. Station Redevelopment:
- The Indian Railway Stations Development Corporation Limited (IRSDC), the SPV undertaking the work for the redevelopment of railway stations across the country by roping in the private sector. IRSDC is eyeing to redevelop the Habibganj station in Bhopal and the Gandhinagar station in Gujarat into world-class airport-like travel hubs by the end of this month.
- Apart from the Habibganj and Gandhinagar stations, the other ongoing projects for redevelopment are Anand Vihar, Bijwasan, and Chandigarh stations. Earlier in the year, IRSDC had conducted a pre-application conference for the request for quotations (RFQ's) for the redevelopment of the Nagpur, Gwalior, Amritsar, and Sabarmati stations on the design-build finance operate transfer (DBFOT) basis. These stations are being developed on the public-private partnership (PPP) modal.
- Various other stations that are 'projects under planning' for redevelopment involve Surat, Kanpur, Hyderabad, Indore, Asansol, Baiyappanahalli, and other selected stations across the country. According to IRSDC, so far, a total of 59 railway stations in the country have been selected for redevelopment work.
Also Read: Larsen & Toubro, GMR, BHEL Qualify To Bid For Private Train Operations
3. Private Trains:
- Indian Railways recently completed the process of evaluating applications for public-private partnership (PPP) in passenger train operations. Out of 120 applications received by the authorities,102 were found eligible to participate in the Request for Proposal (RFP) stage. Infrastructure majors such as GMR, Larsen & Toubro (L&T), and BHEL are among the eligible applicants qualified to bid in the first stage to operate private trains. This is the first major initiative to attract direct private investment in passenger train operations.
- Tejas Express is the country's first semi-high speed fully air-conditioned trains introduced by Indian Railways. The Lucknow-Delhi Tejas Express, inaugurated on October 4, 2019 is completely operated by a private operator - Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC). The Ahmedabad-Mumbai Tejas Express, inaugurated on January 17, 2020 is also operated by IRCTC.