IR lines up big plans to improve services: V K Gupta, Member Engineering, Railway Board

The projects include commissioning of new lines, gauge conversion and doubling of existing tracks in certain busy stretches.

VK-Gupta-MEIndian Railways will commission multiple projects running into 2,500 km to decongest its choked network, a major focus area of this year’s rail budget, to free up line capacities for faster movement of trains.

“The projects include commissioning of new lines, gauge conversion and doubling of existing tracks in certain busy stretches,” V K Gupta, Member, Engineering, Railway Board, told reporters.

He did not divulge details of the investment required. Rail minister Suresh Prabhu had earmarked 77 projects involving doubling, new line and gauge conversion to be undertaken in 24 over-saturated corridors in the rail budget for 2015-16.

Gupta said the 77 identified projects would require Rs 90,000 crore (Rs 900 billion) of investments and are being implemented in some of the most saturated corridors including Delhi-Mumbai, Delhi-Howrah, Delhi-Chennai, Howrah-Chennai and Ahmedabad-Rajkot routes.

“Twenty-eight projects have got in-principle approval from the NITI Aayog out of the 77 projects, and tenders have been invited for their works. The work on these projects is expected to commence in the next few months,” said Gupta, adding the ministry would soon seek a Cabinet nod for four new lines.

He said the ministry would shortly receive the first tranche of around Rs 2,000 crore (Rs 20 billion) of the Life Insurance Corporation of India funding of Rs 1.5 lakh crore for five years tied up earlier for investment in capacity augmentation projects.

Indian Railways is targeting capital expenditure of Rs 1 lakh crore in the current financial year, compared to last year’s plan size of Rs 65,000 crore  (Rs 650 billion).

Of the current year’s targeted investment, Rs 43,518 crore (Rs 435.18 billion) would be spent on civil works, including new lines, gauge conversion and doubling projects.

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