Though no new railway projects were announced in the general budget presented by Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on February 1, ongoing infrastructure projects under the jurisdiction of Central Railway and South East Central Railway (SECR) in the Nagpur region have got a major boost with allocation of over Rs 1,811 crore.
The amount doesn’t include umbrella works like allocation for passenger amenities (lifts, escalators, station works and other developmental activities including ROBs and bridges). For example, in Central Railway general manager, who has been allocated Rs 132 crore for all five divisions in Maharashtra, will allocate funds depending on the proposals and requirement. The total allocation for Central Railway is Rs 7,638 crore. This excludes extra budgetary resources and deposit. The net plan outlay of Central Railway for 2019-20 was Rs 4,306 crore and for 2020-21, it is Rs 4,399 crore, which is an increase of 2.16%.
It seems substantial funds have been allocated to new lines and third and fourth lines in both divisions. An analysis of the ‘pink book’, which gives financial overview of various works and projects, reveals focus remains on completion of capacity enhancement projects like tripling and quadrupling of lines in all directions from Nagpur.
“This will enable higher freight and passenger train carriage capacity. The third and fourth line between Nagpur-Sevagram has received Rs 205 crores. Central Railway is running far behind its execution targets for the project though and it remains to be seen if they will utilize the money. The Wardha third line was sanctioned by the Railway Board in 2012 and line capacity in this section has reached 150%,” said railway project analyst Alok Patel.
Of the 78 km third line between Nagpur-Wardha, 19 km section from Butibori to Sindi and Chitoda to Sonegaon was to be commissioned by 2018. It is yet to be opened. “No allocation for Itwari-Nagbhid broad gauge conversion has been announced despite the narrow gauge line being shut down for upgradation. This is surprising as the Rs 1,400-crore project is to be constructed on 50:50 basis between state and railways. Also if land acquisition is not yet complete, the line, which is targeted to be complete by 2021, could get delayed indefinitely,” says Patel. Patel added minor funds for huge upgradation of signalling on both Central Railway and SECR territory is a cause of concern.
The new line between Wardha-Yavatmal-Nanded has been allocated Rs450 crore. Besides, the stalled line between Wadsa and Gadchiroli received Rs76 crore. The third line between Nagpur-Itarsi has been allocated Rs165 crore. Of the 280km third line between Nagpur-Itarsi, 13km between Dharakhoh-Maramjhiri and 17km between Chichonda-Teegaon, both in the ghat section, were to be opened in 2018. These sections have not yet opened.
In another development, funds have been allocated for quick watering arrangement at Nagpur station and some funds for raising of platforms at various stations. Only token allocations have been made for the modern train control system (MTCS) on both Central Railway and SECR. MTCS will greatly improve safety and will also significantly increase capacity of existing tracks. Nagpur-Badnera under Central Railway is the first in Maharashtra and fourth across Indian Railways to be equipped with this system.