Indian Railways to start its biggest Track Renewal Exercise

AHMEDABAD: Indian Railways will undertake its largest track renewal exercise in the next three months to reduce train derailments. New railway minister Piyush Goyal has asked the Railway Board to identify stretches where tracks have either completed their lifespan or carry heavy traffic and change them all within the stipulated timeline.

The national transporter is expected to renew almost 2,000 km of track by the end of this calendar year, officials said. Goyal has instructed the board to use the available rails for renewals. However, the target for the current financial year for laying of new rails will remain the same and the railways will place fresh orders for tracks. “The minister is of the view that we should get safety in place first and then focus on laying fresh routes or doubling and tripling of lines.

The track renewals would have to be completed by December,” a top rail official said. “However, it doesn’t mean that we won’t meet the target of laying 3,000 km of new track routes. That would be completed as well. This would be a challenge for the zonal railways — to complete both things in record time.”

Goyal has also told the board that he’s not looking at raising passenger fares or levying any kind of safety cess on rail tickets to raise more resources for maintenance, the officials said. Instead, the focus is on weeding out inefficiency and raising revenue through non-fare avenues.

The minister has also instructed the timely completion of the 3,300 km long dedicated freight corridors by 2019. The corridors will reduce traffic on the existing rail network, giving the railways more resources for better maintenance of rail routes.

India has been hit by several rail accidents in the past few months. At least 200 people have died in 340 small and big accident since 2014.