The proposed National Rail Plan was published by the Indian government in December 2020. This document aims to fill in certain gaps in the Indian railway system and sets goals to achieve.
What is the National Rail Plan?
The National Rail Plan aims to include a long-term strategy for expanding India's railway network.
The National Rail Plan's (NRP) vision is to build power, infrastructure, and increase rail freight share ahead of demand.
It also intends to build capacity by 2030 that will be able to meet rising demand until 2050.
One of the NRP's main responsibilities was to map the entire Indian railway network on a GIS (Geographical Information System) platform, complete with attributes and line features. As part of the research, a massive experiment was carried out, and the entire network was mapped on a GIS platform.
Objectives of the National Rail Plan
The NRP's goals are outlined below.
- By 2030, we want to have enough capacity to meet demand, which will enable us to meet demand growth until 2050.
- To increase railways' freight modal share from 27 percent to 45 percent by 2030 as part of a national effort to reduce and maintain carbon emissions.
- To forecast passenger and freight traffic growth year over year up to 2030 and on a decadal basis up to 2050.
- To raise the railways' modal share of freight to 45 percent by 2030 by designing strategies focused on both organizational capacities and commercial policy programs.
- To substantially reduce freight transit time by rising freight train average speed from 22 to 50 kilometers per hour.
- To raising the total cost of rail transportation by approximately 30% and pass the savings on to consumers.
- To plot demand growth on the Indian Railway route map and model network capacity activity in the future.
- Based on the simulation, define the bottlenecks that can occur in the future.
- To schedule ahead of time and pick projects with suitable technologies in trackwork, signaling, and rolling stock to remove bottlenecks.
Vision 2024 for the National Rail Plan
- Vision 2024 was launched to complete several big projects by 2024. The following are some of the most important projects in this category:
- One hundred percent electrification (by December 2030)
- Congested roads with several tracks
- Increased speed to 160 km/h on the Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Howrah roads.
- All other Golden Quadrilateral-Golden Diagonal (GQ/GD) routes will be upgraded to 130 km/h.
- Both level crossings on all Golden Quadrilateral-Golden Diagonal roads will be removed.
The NRP's Other Features
- The East Coast, East-West, and North-South Dedicated Freight Corridors, as well as their timelines, have been established.
- Future projects (beyond 2024) have been identified and timelines have been established.
- There have been new high-speed rail corridors found.
- Also, the plan evaluates the overall capital requirement for all of the programs.
- It identifies new funding structures and channels, including public-private partnerships.
The Significance of the National Rail Plan
Indian Railways is the world's fourth-largest rail network. The railways carried 8.26 billion passengers and 1.16 billion tonnes of freight in FY 2017-18. The railways must be modernized and optimized to meet the aspirations of economic growth and development.
According to some critics, the passenger services of the railways were given too much weight and the freight services were given too little weight. As a result, even in the late nineteenth century and the early twentieth-century, railways did not contribute as much to develop as they did in other countries.
The NRP aims to correct this prejudice towards freight by rising the share of freight transported by railways. Another important feature of the NRP is that it uses a GIS platform to map the railway network and identify gaps. Apart from digitizing railway lines, the GIS map also includes the digitization of railway stations based on the type of railway station. Stations and junctions listed for the forthcoming Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) are also digitized and digitized based on the proposed alignment's position.