Locally made green trains to be rolled out


New Delhi: The Centre unveiled plans to locally design and manufacture semi-high speed metro trains and hydrogen-fuelled trains as it announced a record allocation of 2.4 trillion for the railways in the budget.

“This highest ever outlay is about nine times the outlay made in 2013-14,” finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said. The allocation for the last budget stood at 1.59 trillion.

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

The operating ratio of Indian Railway for FY23—which shows the efficiency of a company’s management by comparing the total operating expense with net sales—stood at 98.22. In FY24, this is projected to rise to 98.45. The ratio is a key metric to assess the Indian Railway’s financial health as it comes under pressure due to heavier capital expenditure.

The Centre has projected a passenger revenue of 70,000 crore in FY24 for Indian Railways, compared with 64,000 in FY23.

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

Addressing 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 through the country. The production and design will of 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. For metros, they are expected to run at 120 kmph.

He said the production of Vande Bharat trains would be started in new locations including Sonipat, Latoor and Raebareli. At present, the production of Vande Bharat Express trains takes place at Chennai’s Integral Coach factory (ICF).

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

In line with 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 tourist 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 dependency on thermal power. He said that 85% of railway electrification has been completed.

Further, under the ‘Amrit Bharat Station’ scheme, the central government plans to redevelop about 1,275 stations across the country including New Delhi Railway Station and the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in Mumbai. The scheme announced in December last year envisages development of stations on a continuous basis with a long-term vision.

He also said that a corridor-based approach would be taken up across the country to develop railway infrastructure. The corridors would include economic corridors specified for sectors like energy, cement, ports among others. A ‘Sagarmala’ corridor will be set up to connect the ports in the country.

The government would also set up a ‘Janjati Gaurav Corridor’ connecting tribal areas of the country by rail. In a bid to strengthen tourism, the minister said that more circuits will be added to the series of trains like ‘Bharat Gaurav’.

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

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Updated: 02 Feb 2023, 01:45 AM IST

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