Land acquisition, cost overrun hurt Indian Railways’ track plan

Railway Board had issued Policy Guidelines last year regarding new line, gauge conversion and doubling.

NEW DELHI: Land acquisition and cost overun have derailed Indian Railways’ plan to have all newly laid tracks compatible to run trains at 160 kmph, with zonal railways seeking relaxation of norms. Railway Board has received several representations from zonal railways for relaxation of the ‘Speed Policy framework for Indian Railways’ in order to ensure that the targets are met in time.

Railway Board had issued policy guidelines last year regarding new line, gauge conversion and doubling.“For new line construction, track geometry should be for 160 kmph and maximum permissible limit (MPS) on opening should be 130 kmph. There should be no level crossings on new lines. For gauge conversion, doubling, third line, minimum MPS should be 130 kmph with no unmanned level crossings,” the speed policy framework states.

After receiving several representations from zonal railways, Railway Board issued another clarification of its policy on December 6, saying zonal railways are facing a problem in adopting the above measures. “The Board has received representations from different zonal railways regarding adopting these instructions due to problems of land acquisitions near the existing lines for flattening of curvature in case of doubling and third line projects. Further, there will be time and cost overrun for extra budgetary resources (EBR) funded as well as new line projects in case these instructions are strictly adopted,” the railway board said. It has been decided that the directions issued should be treated as a policy framework only, the Board said.

“Each case may be examined on its own merits and the Chief Administrative Officer may take a reasoned decision for departure from policy framework.  Clearance of the plans and estimates should not be delayed once the decision has been taken,” it added.