Indian Infrastructure

 

  • Whichever sector be the prime moving force of an economy, i.e., primary, secondary or tertiary, suitable level of infrastructure presence is a pre-requisite for growth and development.
    • This is why the Government of India has always given priority to the developmental aspects of the sector
  • But the level of preparedness and performance had been always less than required by the economy
  • Indian infrastructure sector is clearly overstrained and has suffered from underinvestment in the post-reforms period
  • Infrastructure bottlenecks are always constraint in achieving a higher growth for the economy.
    • Thus, India needs massive investment, both from the public and private sectors, to overcome infrastructure bottleneck
  • In this perspective, Investments by the public and private sectors are not alternatives, but complimentary to each other as the required investment is very high

 

Indian Railway Infrastructure

  • Indian Railways is among the world’s largest rail network, and its route network is spread over 67, 956km, and 13,169 passenger trains and 8,479 freight trains plying 23 million travellers and 3 million tonnes (MT) of freight daily from 7,349 stations
  • India’s railway network is recognised as one of the largest railway systems in the world under single management
  • Growth
    • Indian Railway network is growing at a healthy rate
    • In the next five years, Indian railway market will be the third largest, accounting for 10% of the global market
    • Indian Railways, which is one of the country’s biggest employers, can generate one million jobs
  • Significance of the Indian Railways
    • Railways provide the cheapest and most convenient mode of passenger transport both for long distance and suburban traffic
    • Railways have played a significant role in the development and growth of Industries. Growth of textile Industry in Mumbai, Jute Industries around Kolkata are largely due to development of railway network in these areas
    • Agriculture also owes its growth to railways to a great extent. Now farmers can sell their agricultural produce to distant places
    • Railways have been helpful in removing isolation between cities and countryside; and have played a significant role in dissemination innovations and new ideas
    • Railways are particularly suited for long distance journey; and hence provide a strong medium of national integration
    • Railways carry relief and rescue teams to the affected areas, during times of natural calamities. Hence, they play a part in mitigating the sufferings of the people
    • Railways help in facing man-made calamities like social, political, religious disturbances, insurgency, etc. It facilitates easy movement of police, troops, defence equipment etc.

 

  • Challenges to Railway Infrastructure in India
    • India’s railway system is saddled with a two-pronged infrastructure deficit –
      • ageing infrastructure, and
      • the pace of new project execution struck by unforeseen circumstances related to socio-economic issues on land acquisition for new projects and escalating project costs
    • India’s haphazard planning of development post-independence has further complicated the infrastructure upgrade
    • Gauge conversion and signal upgrades are the major obstacles to the strengthening of infrastructure
    • The absence of modern automated signalling across the network further adds to the complication of the matter.
  • Major Initiatives to improve Railway Infrastructure in India
    • Mobile application for freight operations – Parichaalan – has been introduced
    • High Speed Train Project
      • In February 2016, the National High-Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL) was incorporated with an object to finance, construct, maintain and manage all high speed rail corridors in India
      • The first route selected for implementing was the Mumbai – Ahmedabad route(with Japanese assistance through its Shinkansen (bullet train) technology), so NHSRCL was formed with equity participation by the Central Government through Ministry of Railways and the state governments of Gujarat and Maharashtra.
    • Train 18
      • India’s first engine-less, semi high-speed train (160 kmph), the Train18 (rechristened Vande Bharat Express) was launched in February 2019
    • In 2021, the Central Government approved a Rs. 25,000 crore (US$ 3.43 billion) five-year plan to use 4G technology to modernise communication networks in railway stations and improve the safety and security of train journeys
    • In 2021, Indian Railways completed the arch closure of the under-construction Chenab Bridge which is the world’s highest railway bridge. Chenab Bridge is 1315 m long and will be 35 meters higher than Eiffel Tower in Paris
    • Under the Union Budget 2021-22, the government allocated Rs. 110,054.64 crore (US$ 15.19 billion) to the Ministry of Railways.
    • In 2020, Indian Railways sanctioned a feasibility study for seven bullet train projects – all open to PPP investments
    • The Indian Railway launched the National Rail Plan, Vision 2024, to accelerate implementation of critical projects, such as multitrack congested routes, achieve 100% electrification, upgrade the speed to 160 kmph on Delhi-Howrah and Delhi-Mumbai routes, upgrade the speed to 130 kmph on all other golden quadrilateral-golden diagonal (GQ/GD) routes and eliminate all level crossings on the GQ/GD route, by 2024