Indian Railways: Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on Thursday (November 16) said he is working on a plan to introduce around 3,000 new trains in the next four-five years to raise the railways' passenger capacity from 800 crore at present to 1,000 crore. Vaishnaw also added that decreasing travel time is another target of his ministry.
“At present, the railways is carrying about 800 crore passengers annually. We have to increase the capacity to 1,000 crore in four to five years as the population is growing,” Vaishnaw told media at the Rail Bhawan in the national capital.
“For this, we need 3,000 extra trains which will make several trips to accommodate this increased number of passengers,” Railway Minister Vaishnaw said. According to sources of railway, there are 69,000 new coaches available and every year it is manufacturing about 5,000 new coaches. The sources said that with all these efforts the railways can add 200 to 250 new trains every year and these are besides 400 to 450 Vande Bharat trains, which are going to be added in the coming years.
Decreasing train travel time:
Vaishnaw said decreasing travel time is another target, for which, the railways is working to improve speed of trains and expand the rail network. “It is important to minimise the time taken to accelerate and decelerate a long route train because besides scheduled stoppages, it has to decrease its speed at several cautions and curves along the route,” he added.
“If we take the Delhi-Kolkata route from Rajdhani Express, and if we improve the acceleration and deceleration time at curves, stations and cautions, we will save two hours and 20 minutes from the current total travel time,” Vaishnaw said.
Vande Bharat saves time:
He stated that Vande Bharat’s acceleration and deceleration is four times better than other mail and express trains and that’s the reason it saves a lot of travel time and has better average speed. Since it will take time to introduce Vande Bharat on all routes, the railways is working out an intermediate solution to improve the acceleration and deceleration by doubling it from the current practice, he said.
“This is possible with a technology known as push-pull configuration mode. We are planning to introduce this push-pull configuration on all the coaches which are being manufactured now. Long-distance trains will be upgraded and significant travel time will be saved,” Vaishnaw said.
Besides the push-pull mode, Vaishnaw also said that instead of having a train with separate coaches attached together, the railways is working to have a train with integrated 22 coaches (a train set with 22 coaches) which will have multiple benefits for the passengers.
“So, instead of turning out coaches from our factories, now we will turn out trains. It has a lot of safety measures so they are safe and convenient in several ways,” he said.
Construction of flyovers, underpasses:
Vaishnav said every year around 5,000 km of tracks are laid to further enhance the capacity significantly.
“As many as 1,000 flyovers and underpasses have also been sanctioned and work has started at many places. Last year, we constructed 1,002 flyovers and underpasses and this year we have a target of 1,200,” Vaishnaw added.
Indian Railways targets zero waiting lists in 4-5 years: Sources
In a bold move, the Railways Ministry has announced its ambitious goal of eliminating waiting lists entirely in 4-5 years. Sources within the ministry revealed a comprehensive plan to address the increasing demand, particularly for general and sleeper-class coaches. Sources said that from April to October 2023, the data indicates a significant shift in passenger distribution.
Non-AC coaches, including General and Sleeper classes, witnessed a staggering 95.3 per cent of the total passengers carried, totalling a remarkable 372 crore passengers. This marks a substantial increase of 38 crore passengers compared to the previous year, emphasising the growing preference for economical travel options. Sources further said that, in contrast, AC coaches accommodated 4.7 per cent of the total passengers carried, summing up to 18.2 crore travellers. Notably, this represents a notable increase of 3.1 crore passengers compared to the previous year.
The overall surge in passenger numbers amounted to 41.1 crore, representing a 92.5 per cent increase in non-AC passengers (general and sleeper class). This shift underscores a changing trend in passenger preferences towards more budget-friendly travel options. Sources informed that to meet this escalating demand, Indian Railways has significantly expanded its services.
Additional trains post COVID-19:
In comparison to pre-COVID days, an additional 562 trains are now operational on a daily basis across the IR network. This expansion encompasses various categories, with mail and express trains increasing from 1,768 to 2,122, suburban trains from 5,626 to 5,774, and passenger trains from 2,792 to 2,852, resulting in a total of 10,748 trains running each day.
This proactive approach by the Ministry of Railways not only addresses the current surge in demand but also lays the groundwork for achieving a future where waiting lists become a thing of the past, ensuring a smoother and more efficient travel experience for millions of passengers.
(With agencies inputs)