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New India - New Railway is the vision

New India - New Railway is the vision
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South Central Railway has achieved the second rank position on Indian Railways in terms of cleanliness at railway stations, as per the independent All...

South Central Railway has achieved the second rank position on Indian Railways in terms of cleanliness at railway stations, as per the independent All India Third Party Survey Report of the Quality Council of India. Four of SCR’s stations feature in the list of top 10 amongst A1 category stations on Indian Railways. Tirupati is ranked at the third place on Indian Railways amongst A1 category stations, while Vijayawada at fourth, Secunderabad at sixth and Hyderabad at eighth.

The dawn of April 16, 1853 heralded a new chapter in the transport history of the Indian Sub-continent, when the first train ran from Bori Bunder to Thane for a distance of 34 kms. Gradually, rail network started expanding in various parts of the country and by the time of Indian independence in 1947, the rail system increased to cover an extent of 53,596 route kms.

Post-independence, all the State Railways integrated to form one entity i.e., Indian Railways. In the last 71 years, the network could expand only by about 12 per cent, reflecting the fact that though there was visible progress of the Rail system throughout the country in the last seven decades it has not matched the requirements to the extent needed.

The organisation has not been able to augment its capacity in terms of construction of new lines to connect the hinterland, doubling and tripling the existing saturated sections or undertake construction of strategic lines to boost economy. It could not imbibe modern technology to keep pace with other advanced railway systems in the world, so as to enhance the speed, safety and efficiency of the rail services to attain customer delight.

The Ministry of Railways has taken up a slew of transformational initiatives in the last four years and formulated a vision for New India-New Railways by the year 2022, clearly identifying the mission areas.

The objectives are well defined in every segment to take the organisation to the next level by expanding and strengthening the Rail network to handle more number of services and serve more regions to meet the expectations of various stakeholders.

Safety is the foremost priority for Indian Railways. Accidents at Unmanned Railway Level Crossings (UMLCs) is one major area of concern. In 2014, 47 accidents took place at the UMLCs primarily due to negligence of road users. On South Central Railway, the negligence of a school bus driver had caused a major mishap at Masaipet in July, 2014.

In an unprecedented policy initiative, the Ministry of Railway took a decision to eliminate all Unmanned Railway Level Crossings on the Broad Gauge system by 2019. Taking the task on Mission mode, Indian Railways has eliminated 8,870 UMLCs between 2014 and 2018 till date, with 3,402 UMLCs being eliminated in the last 7 months.

This is one of the greatest achievements of the organisation. South Central Railway became “Zero unmanned Level Crossings Zone” on 31st October 2018. In the last 3½ years, SCR has eliminated 486 UMLC’s with minimum disturbance to the rail traffic.

Indian Railways had been severely handicapped in terms of infrastructure growth because of inadequate planning and paucity of funds. The existing network on busy rail routes is over saturated and handling around 150 per cent of the designed carrying capacity, thereby undergoing enormous pressure.

In the last few years, the Railway Ministry has gone into the root cause of the entire problem and has adopted a systemic project management plan with a strong monitoring mechanism. New sources of funding were tapped. The projects which neared last mile connectivity were identified and full funding was given for their completion. Special emphasis was given to doubling and tripling works on saturated routes.

In the last four years, funds were allotted to the tune of Rs. 5.30 lakh crore per annum on an average, virtually double as compared to the earlier years. This resulted in the increase of laying of new railway lines by about 60 per cent in terms of per day average between 2014-18.

For SCR, the average annual budgetary outlay which was around Rs. 2,826 crore till around 2014 has risen to an average of Rs. 5,300 crore in the last four years, showing an increase of around 90 per cent. The resultant impact is visible with SCR commissioning 377 kms of new rail lines, 28.15 kms of rail line Doubling and 33.65 kms of the third line works.

This has also enabled the commissioning of long awaited Peddapalli-Karimnagar-Nizamabad, Nandyal-Yerraguntla and Vishnupuram- Janpahad-Jaggayapet new rail line projects. This has enabled socio-economic progress of the region. The other new line works on SCR are also progressing at a fast pace and will change the rail map of the region in few years.

Electrification of the Indian Railways network is another core component of infrastructure growth. So far, 29,288 route kms of the IR network are electrified which roughly accounts for 43 per cent of the total length and handles about 54 per cent of passenger traffic and 65 per cent of freight.

Indian Railways has taken up Mission Electrification of its entire network by 2021-2022, with a view to improve the operational efficiency, speed up train services, reduce diesel fuel bill and dependence on petroleum- based energy besides reducing the carbon emission.

During the last five years, 204 electrification projects consisting of 31,468 Route Kms have been sanctioned by the Government of India. It is expected that Indian Railways will save around Rs. 13500 Crore per annum in fuel expenses once Mission Electrification is completed.

On South Central Railway, out of the total length of 5992 route kilometre of the network, 3250 route kilometres have been electrified, which is sizeably over 50 per cent. Sections which have seen completion of electrification works in the recent times are Wadi-Guntakal (228.32 Route Kms), Nallapadu-Guntakal (426 Route Kms), Malkajgiri-Bolarum (12.70 Route Kms), Nallapadu-Siripuram (17.50 Route Kms) and Mattampalli-Janpahad (20 Route Kms).

The vital gain through seamless electrified connectivity can be seen in the commissioning of the Wadi – Guntakal electrified section, which enabled the Bengaluru-Hazrat Nizamuddin Rajdhani Express to run on electric power from start till destination, without the need for change of traction at Secunderabad thereby saving around 20 minutes of running time.

The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, launched by the Government of India to fulfil the dream of a Clean India by 2019, had its echo on Indian Railways. A slew of measures have been taken up under Swachh Rail- Swachh Bharat mission to improve the cleanliness standards at Railway stations and in trains.

These include installation of bio-toilets in passenger coaches, outsourcing of cleanliness of all major Railway stations, improvement to platform surfaces and mechanised cleaning of the platforms, segregating the waste, using CCTVs to monitor clean practices, employing real time 24/7 public grievance system through social media, and more importantly creating awareness amongst passengers on cleanliness by means of several cleanliness drives and programmes. The entire exercise has been successful in showcasing the Railway stations as models to emulate, thereby taking the Swachh Bharat Mission to the next level.

SCR has completed provision of bio-toilets in 13,434 coaches (76.8%), On Board Housekeeping Services by 74 trains to undertake cleanliness in trains on the move; Introduced Clean Train Stations concept at 4 stations to undertake comprehensive cleaning of trains passing through major junctions; 5 Mechanised laundries to dispense ultra clean linen and introduced Mechanized cleaning at 50 Railway stations.

South Central Railway has achieved the second rank position on Indian Railways in terms of cleanliness at railway stations, as per the independent All India Third Party Survey Report of the Quality Council of India. Four of SCR’s stations feature in the list of top 10 amongst A1 category stations on Indian Railways. Tirupati is ranked at the third place on Indian Railways amongst A1 category stations, while Vijayawada at fourth, Secunderabad at sixth and Hyderabad at eighth.

SCR has taken a host of steps towards energy conservation. Railway stations on the Zone have been 100% LED lit, along with the office buildings and residential quarters, thereby saving Rs. 4 crore per annum. SCR is the first Zone on Indian Railways to achieve this status.

The Indian Green Building Council (IGBC), a nationally recognised entity to identify, analyse and award Green ratings to the construction industry has given the highest ever IGBC – Green Co Platinum rating to Secunderabad Railway Station and Rail Vikas Bhavan, the Divisional Head Quarters of Guntur, besides the Gold rating to several other offices and workshops on the Zone. Use of solar power has been extensive on SCR, with the present capacity built to harness 6.5 MwP of solar power, resulting into a savings of Rs. 3.80 crore per annum.

The seeds are sown for a new Railway befitting a new India. Indian Railways is set to travel the development path and meet the aspirations of the people in the next 3-4 years. The organisation is committed to ensure reliability in terms of providing a transport system that matches the most modern, thereby succeeding in its endeavour to live up to the confidence reposed by the Rail users. ( The author is Chief Public Relations Officer, South Central Railway)

By M Umashankar Kumar

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