Railway Minister urges Industry leaders to collaborate with Indian Railways in the journey of transformation

The Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) organised the second edition of Rail Connect yesterday on 8 September 2020 on the virtual platform. The conference focused on the future plans of the Indian Railways, indigenous manufacturing, and Ease of doing business for the railway industry in India and deliberate upon the emerging opportunities for private industry in Rail Transportation sector covering public private partnership, technology, urban mobility, station development, locomotive modernization, rail freight, communication technology and the safety, health and sustainability standards of the railway system.

The event witnessed the participation of Shri Piyush Goyal, Minister of Railways and Commerce & Industry, Shri Vinod Kumar Yadav, Chairman & CEO, Railway Board, Shri Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, CII and industry leaders.

Addressing the inaugural session of the event, Shri Goyal said, “Indian Railways is rightly referred as the growth engine of the country by Shri Narendra Modi, Hon’ble Prime Minister of India. His vision is to make Indian Railways a strong entity which serves customers with modern technology and good service experience while maintaining the romanticism associated with Railways. There has been a transformation of Railways.

During COVID phase, Indian Railways utilised the opportunity for removing bottlenecks, maintenance, running Shramik trains, bring back freight share, reinvigorating processes, making policy changes, engaging with private sector, technology providers, improving infrastructure.” The Minister also stated that Indian Railways is pacing towards becoming Net Zero Carbon Emitter.

He urged the industry leaders to collaborate and partner with Indian Railways to provide cost effective solutions in logistics sector and reducing logistic costs. He also stressed that Aatmanirbhar Railways depends on the participation of both, Railways and Industry.

The national transporter has achieved about Rs 50,000 crore of its planned capex of Rs 1.61 trillion for 2020-21 in the first five months, despite the covid situation, Railways Minister Piyush Goyal said addressing a CII summit on Tuesday. During the time of lockdown, the Railways increased the pace of infrastructure works and also completed almost 200 infrastructure projects that needed a traffic blockade. Out of the total capex of 1.61 trillion, the budgetary allocation for the current year was around Rs 70,000 crore. The capex for the last financial year was Rs 1.56 trillion.

One of the key achievement of the railways during the current year would be the increased speed of freight trains. The average speed of freight trains increased by 94 per cent to 46.81-kilo meter per hour (kmph) in August 2020, as against 24.17 kmph during the same time last year. In a sign of economic recovery, the freight loading by the Railways increased by 3.6 per cent in the month of August 2020 at 94.33 million tonne as compared to 91.02 MT during the same period in 2019. Goyal also highlighted that there has been a 10 per cent increase in freight loading so far in the month of September. “Our aim is to achieve 20 per cent higher freight loading,” he added.

Till September 6, the Indian Railways loading was 19.19 MT which includes 8.11 MT of coal, 2.59 MT of iron ore, 1.2 MT of foodgrains, 1.03 MT of fertilizers and 1.05 MT of cement (excluding clinker). In this period Indian Railways earned Rs. 1836.15 crore from freight loading which is also Rs. 129.68 crores higher compare to last year’s earnings for the same period (Rs. 1706.47 crore).

The minister added that the focus of the government is to increase operational and cost-efficiency. “In the last six years, except for salary, pension and interest rates, all our cost in aggregate has fallen showing a sign of cost-efficiency. On operational parameters too, the scale of electrification and rail renewal has increased multi-fold,” he added.

Goyal added that focus is being given on more private participation in various sectors related to the Indian railways, including the operation of private trains. The Indian Railways set to come up with 151 private trains in 109 routes at an investment of around Rs 30,000 crore by 2023. Companies like GMR Group, Sterlite Power, Bharat Forge, JKB Infrastructure, Medha Group, R K Associates, Bombardier, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) and Bharat Heavy Electricals (BHEL), that participated in a pre-application meeting in July.

Shri Vinod Kumar Yadav, Chairman, Railway Board in his address talked about various steps taken by Indian Railways in the direction of modernisation, self reliance and green Railways. He outlined the plan for Indian Railways transformation and expressed that Indian Railways is open for collaborations and partnerships with the industry.

During the conference, various industry leaders appreciated the important role played by Railways during lockdown period and also the discernible changes in Railways.