Month-wise plans issued to 16 Zonal Railways by Railway Board

Indian Railways has issued month wise plans to zonal railways for timely commissioning of new lines, gauge conversion and doubling projects. 2,075 km of tracks underwent upgrade since January, with the month of March seeing the highest ever track renewal numbers, at 642 km.

NEW DELHI: Keeping in mind the 2019 elections and to avoid any delays, Indian Railways has issued month wise plans to zonal railways for timely commissioning of new lines, gauge conversion and doubling projects announced in the budget this year and asked that tendency to keep most of the works for the last quarter must be avoided.

In a letter to all 16 zonal railways and three railway public sector undertakings (PSUs), Chairman Railway Board Ashwani Lohani said that railway has set a very challenging target for commissioning of new lines, gauge conversion and doubling projects in line with the announcement made in the budget 2018-19.

He said that directorate has already worked out detailed month-wise plans after consultation with all zonal railways and PSUs.

In 2017, railways missed targets of 3600 kilometre new track lines, gauge conversion and doubling/tripling due to shortage of rails supply.

The track renewal target has been set at 3900 km for 2018-19.

“Needless to say, the timely commissioning of these projects calls for meticulous planning in respect of preparatory works like approval of plans, arrangement of materials, fixing of executing agencies, creation of posts for maintenance of new assets, fixing of tentative dates for Commissioner Railway Safety inspection,” said Lohani.

According to railways, there is a tendency to keep most of the works for the last quarter and that delays the commissioning of the projects, which must be avoided.

“All zonal railways must set up a system through which finalization of projects and other inputs required to achieve the targets are reviewed and monitored at the level of Additional General Managers.

“Timelines for these activities have to be so prepared in advance that the final outcome of commissioning of the projects for traffic is accompanied with the deadline,” he said.

Top officials have been directed to set up a system of periodical monitoring at their level and to intervene when a problem is brought to their notice.

Goyal took charge of the ministry in September after a series of accidents, following which the minister focused on safety-related measures. Since January this year, work was done on 2,075 km, with March posting track renewal of 642 km, the highest ever in a month.

“In April, it came down to around 350 km, but the pace of work is going to increase because the Railway Board has said there will be no dearth of funds for safety-related works,” he added.

The upgrade includes replacing and strengthening old tracks. For the past few months, the Railways has been citing work on tracks as the primary reason for trains being behind schedule.

Many international players such as Sumitomo Corporation, Angang Group International, Voestalpine Schienen, East Metals, CRM Hong Kong, British Steel France Rail, Atlantic Steel, and Jindal Steel & Power had participated in it. The bidding had faced opposition from the steel ministry, which said this did not tie in with Make in India policy.

SAIL’s Bhilai Steel Plant is the only unit from which railways procures tracks, both for renewal and replacement. On average, the plant supplies 700,000-800,000 tonnes of rail to the national transporter.

Owing to the renewed focus on safety, after many years the number of accidents was a double-digit figure, 73, in 2017-18.

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