In a move that could herald the beginning of a new era for Indian Railways, the government is looking to invest a sum of $15 billion (Rs.96,000 crore) towards modernisation of the system. Consultations are likely to begin soon to finalise a new model wherein the railway ministry will look to implement changes without overshooting the budget.
The ministry is looking at modernising the current signalling system which is likely to cost a whopping Rs.78,000 crore. The new system, once implemented will increase efficiency of the Railways’, in addition to enhancing the safety factor.
The new system will initially cover 65,000 km, with this expected to be increased over time.
It is estimated that the Railways will be allocated a sum of Rs.65,000 crore this year in the budget, up from Rs.55,000 crore last year. It is likely that it will generate the additional funds internally, with some experts suggesting that it might turn to the market to meet the cash demand.
In addition to replacing the current signalling system, the Railways is also looking to introduce mobile train communication systems, the European Train Control System and electronic interlocking systems.
The government is looking at manufacturing elements locally, in a bid to not only reduce costs but also create jobs.
Additionally, the budget which is set to be presented on February 1 will also focus on electrification, with the move from diesel to electric expected to be completed by 2020.
The Indian Railways operates over 12,000 trains every day, with over 2 crore people using it to traverse the length and breadth of the country. Given this fact safety is a key concern for the government, with it looking to reduce the number of accidents.