Locally made green trains to be rolled out

New Delhi: The Center unveiled plans to locally design and manufacture semi-high speed metro trains and hydrogen fuel trains while announcing higher allocation of 2.4 trillion for the railways in the budget.

“This highest disbursement is about nine times the disbursement made in 2013-14,” said Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. 1.59 trillion.

The large increase in the allocation for the railways comes with expectations of better returns on investment.

Indian Railway’s operating ratio for FY23 was 98.22 – which shows the efficiency of the company’s management by comparing the total operating cost to net sales. In FY24, this is expected to increase to 98.45. The ratio is a key metric to gauge the financial health of Indian Railways as it comes under pressure due to heavier capital expenditure.

The Center has projected passenger revenue of 70,000 crore in FY24 for Indian Railways, compared to 64,000 in FY23.

Revenue is expected to rise from freight to 1.79 trillion in the next fiscal from 1.65 trillion in FY23.

Speaking to the media after the budget presentation, Union Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said: “We will be rolling out 2-3 Vande Bharat trains every week by the end of 2023-24, which will be used across the country. The production and design of the Vande Bharat metro projects will be completed in 2023-24 and we hope to start rolling out these metro projects in 2024-25.”

Vande Bharat trains run at semi-high speeds of up to 180 km per hour on non-metro routes. As for metros, they are expected to run at 120 km/h.

He said the production of Vande Bharat trains would start at new locations including Sonipat, Latoor and Raebareli. Currently, Vande Bharat Express trains are produced at Chennai’s Integral Coach Factory (ICF).

Currently, there are eight Vande Bharat trains and the government aims to operate 75 such trains by August 2023.

In line with the Centre’s energy transition and net-zero goals, Indian Railways plans to design and manufacture India’s first hydrogen-fuelled train by the end of this year. These trains will operate across heritage and tourism circuits like the Kalka-Shimla route, Vaishnaw said.

Vaishnaw said that in line with the government’s green energy mission, the railways will install ultra-mega solar power plants to cut the dependence on thermal power. He said that 85% of railway electrification has been completed.

In addition, under the ‘Amrit Bharat Station’ scheme, the central government plans to redevelop around 1,275 stations across the country including New Delhi Railway Station and Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in Mumbai. In the scheme announced in December last year, it is planned to develop stations on a continuous basis with a long-term vision.

He also said that a corridor-based approach would be used across the country to develop rail infrastructure. The corridors would have specified economic corridors for sectors such as energy, cement, ports among other sectors. A ‘Sagarmala’ corridor will be set up to connect the country’s ports.

The government would also set up ‘Janjati Gauav Corridor’ which would connect the tribal areas of the country by rail. In order to strengthen tourism, the Minister said that more circuits would be added to the series of trains like ‘Bharat Gauav’.

Speaking on the progress of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed train project, he said that the Maharashtra government has cleared stuck approvals and the project would be speeded up.

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Updated: 02 February 2023, 01:45 AM IST

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