Braving the odds of lockdown and Covid-19, the Indian Railways has achieved around 31 per cent of its planned capital expenditure during the first five months of the financial year, from April to August.
The national transporter has achieved about Rs 50,000 crore of its planned capex of Rs 1.61 trillion for 2020-21 in the first five months, despite the covid situation, Railways Minister Piyush Goyal said addressing a CII summit on Tuesday. During the time of lockdown, the Railways increased the pace of infrastructure works and also completed almost 200 infrastructure projects that needed a traffic blockade. Out of the total capex of 1.61 trillion, the budgetary allocation for the current year was around Rs 70,000 crore. The capex for the last financial year was Rs 1.56 trillion
One of the key achievement of the railways during the current year would be the increased speed of freight trains. The average speed of freight trains increased by 94 per cent to 46.81-kilo meter per hour (kmph) in August 2020, as against 24.17 kmph during the same time last year. In a sign of economic recovery, the freight loading by the Railways increased by 3.6 per cent in the month of August 2020 at 94.33 million tonne as compared to 91.02 MT during the same period in 2019. Goyal also highlighted that there has been a 10 per cent increase in freight loading so far in the month of September. "Our aim is to achieve 20 per cent higher freight loading," he added.
Till September 6, the Indian Railways loading was 19.19 MT which includes 8.11 MT of coal, 2.59 MT of iron ore, 1.2 MT of foodgrains, 1.03 MT of fertilizers and 1.05 MT of cement (excluding clinker). In this period Indian Railways earned Rs. 1836.15 crore from freight loading which is also Rs. 129.68 crores higher compare to last year’s earnings for the same period (Rs. 1706.47 crore).
The minister added that the focus of the government is to increase operational and cost-efficiency. "In the last six years, except for salary, pension and interest rates, all our cost in aggregate has fallen showing a sign of cost-efficiency. On operational parameters too, the scale of electrification and rail renewal has increased multi-fold," he added.
Goyal added that focus is being given on more private participation in various sectors related to the Indian railways, including the operation of private trains. The Indian Railways set to come up with 151 private trains in 109 routes at an investment of around Rs 30,000 crore by 2023. Companies like GMR Group, Sterlite Power, Bharat Forge, JKB Infrastructure, Medha Group, R K Associates, Bombardier, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) and Bharat Heavy Electricals (BHEL), that participated in a pre-application meeting in July.