Snew of the economy
With rapid increase in goods traffic, dedicated freight services and
high-speed trains, high-strength rails will be an essential component of railway
modernisation in coming years, says R.S. Bhatia, Assistant Vice President
(Marketing), Jindal Steel & Power Ltd.
India is a land of diverse culture and Indian Railways play a
key role in not only meeting the transport needs of the country, but also in
binding together dispersed areas and promoting national integration. Truly,
Railways has emerged as the sinew of the Indian economy and has reached out to
bring together the great Indian family.
Railways traverse through the length and breadth of the country, covering 63,410
route km, comprising broad gauge (45,099 km), meter gauge (14,776 km) and narrow
gauge (3,256 km).
The priorities highlighted by Indian Railways for fulfillment of the projected
targets during the 11th Five-Year Plan (2007-2012) are building capacity for
handling traffic growth by adding new lines including dedicated freight
corridor, unigauge network and alternate routes, doubling of single lines,
enhancing capacity for production of rolling stock, upgradation of heavy axel
load movement, modernisation of freight and passenger terminals, making
world-class stations, IT initiatives, and technology upgradation.
The main priorities of the Railways during the 11th Plan are as under:
u Target of 1,100 mt
freight loading and 840 crore passengers in the terminal year of the 11th Plan.
u Focus would be on
doubling transport capacity and reducing unit cost of transportation by
l Short-term strategy - investing in
low-cost high-return projects for eliminating bottlenecks and ensuring intensive
l Mid- and long-term strategy -
twin-pronged approach of network expansion and modernisation, and technical
l Public-private partnerships projects
will play an important role.
u Construction of eastern
and western dedicated freight corridors at a cost of Rs 30,000 crore commenced
from 2007-08 and is scheduled for completion during the 11th Plan.
u Pre-feasibility surveys
for east-west, east-south, north-south and south-south
u Most of the meter-gauge
lines will be converted into broad-gauge by the end of this five-year plan.
u High-speed passenger
corridors to be constructed to run trains at more than 300 km/hr speed.
u Expansion of suburban
services through completion of MUTP Phase-I and initiating MUTP Phase-II through
u Efforts to provide
air-conditioned suburban trains in Chennai, Kolkata and Mumbai, and escalators
at important stations.
u The production of
rolling stock will be doubled compared with previous plan.
u Production of high
horsepower and energy efficient locos to be increased.
u Manifold increase in
investment in IT to increase earnings, ensure effective utilisation of human and
physical resources, and facilitate long-term policy decisions.
u Commercial portal to be
developed over next
three years for better yield management.
u Integrated time bound
implementation of all FOIS modules by 2010.
u ERP package for
workshops, production units and select zonal railways.
World over it is ensured that rails are made of cleaner steel having H2 well
below 2.0 ppm with downstream facilities to further carry out flash-butt welding
of rails to deliver long-welded panels up to 480m in length. Longer rails have
fewer weld joints, thereby facilitating high-speed movement of trains with
optimum safety. Besides appreciable savings due to reduction in number of welds
and expenditure owing to lower transportation, handling indirect savings on
account of enhanced safety, better riding comfort and increased track
Dedicated heavy haul routes across the world have an average 25.5 axel loads,
7,000-tonne unit trains and a lifetime of 20 GMT per annum. At present, Indian
Railways has mixed traffic lines with passenger train speed of 160 kmph and
goods train speed of 100 kmph. However, with rapid increase in goods traffic
volume, commencement of dedicated freight services and introduction of higher
speed passenger trains in the coming years, usage of rails with improved rail
quality (high strength) will not only be helpful but essential on the part of
Railways to ensure the following benefits:
i. Enhanced safety.
ii. Increased reliability and comfort.
iii. Prolonged rail life.
Advantages in terms of direct and indirect savings to Indian Railways,
highlighted above, will ultimately help us realise the dream of heavy haul
dedicated freight corridors traversing across the length and breadth of our
country, operating at par with international railway benchmarks under Indian
[May 19-25, 2008]