India’s railway minister announces wave of “transformative” decisions

A number of trains at New Delhi station. Credit:saiko3p/Shutterstock.
A number of trains at New Delhi station. Credit:saiko3p/Shutterstock.

India’s new railway minister Piyush Goyal has announced a wave of decisions to transform the railways into “the engine that fuels the development journey towards New India.”

A wide-ranging programme of improvement, covering passenger safety, technology and efficiency, Goyal said it will contribute to India’s economic and social development and make railways the people’s choice of transport.

Notably, the key decisions include the completion of electrification within the next five years, monetising railway assets to free up resources for critical projects, and opening up low-usage stations for other uses, such as for yoga or educational purposes.

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Some of the other notable key points include:

  • Eliminating the remaining 5,000 unmanned level crossings
  • Shift to Linke Hofmann Busch coaches from Integral Coach Factory coaches by 2018
  • Improving working conditions of track workers with the introduction of better-quality shoes and uniforms.
  • Rollout of “high-speed” wifi connectivity across all stations and trains
  • Ramp up the installation of electronic interlockings to replace manual interlockings
  • Revamping the existing signalling system with TPWS (train protection and warning system) and MTRC (mobile train radio communication)
  • Expediting the project for GPS-based real-time monitoring of train movement
  • Expediting satellite based mapping of all railway assets through the Indian Space Research Organisation.

Piyush Goyal, who replaced Suresh Prabhu earlier in September, said: “Railways is committed to ensuring high standards of safety, speed and service for Indian consumers and also ensuring contribution to national development.

“In the past one month, Indian Railways has taken significant transformative steps to ensure this goal.”