NITI Aayog OKs Rs.18000 Crore project to increase Train Speeds

NEW DELHI: The ambitious Rs.18,000 crore project for increasing train speeds on the Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Howrah rail corridors has got the NITI Aayog’s approval, paving the way for being put up for Cabinet clearance.

The mega project is meant to bring about a paradigm shift in rail operations enabling trains to run at 160 km per hour on the busiest routes on the Indian railway network.

Aiming at reducing travel time between the three metropolises, the project envisages fencing off the entire 3,000 kms on both routes, upgradation of signalling system, elimination of all level crossings and installing train protection warning system (TPWS), among other works to make trains run at an increased speed of 160 kmh.

“Any project more than Rs 1,000 crore in worth will have to get the NITI Aayog clearance. So now after getting the NITI Aayog clearance yesterday, the proposal will now be examined by the expanded Railway Board,” said a senior railway ministry official involved with the project.

The expanded railway board is comprised of senior representatives from department of expenditure, department of programme implementation and NITI Aayog, besides the board members.

The Railways will submit the proposal for cabinet clearance after getting the proposal approved by the expanded railway board.

The 1,483-km long New Delhi-Mumbai rail route will also include the Baroda-Ahmedabad sector, and is estimated to cost Rs 11,189 crore.

The 1,525-km long New Delhi-Howrah route, which also includes the Kanpur-Lucknow section, is estimated to cost Rs 6,974 crore.

The work on both sections will be given to a single agency through global bidding for effective implementation of the project.

Prabhu seeks NITI Aayog’s help in revamping safety

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has sought the NITI Aayog’s help in monitoring investment in safety infrastructure and also suggestions in setting up of a dedicated wing for train accident investigation.

The government has allocated Rs 1 lakh crore for the safety upgrade in railways over the next five years.

Prabhu, who has introduced many reforms in rail administration, broached the idea of involvement of NITI Aayog in revamping safety system with PMO also, sources in the railway ministry said.

Prabhu is keen that expenditure in safety upgrade is being carried out with suggestion and guidance from Niti Aayog.

The Railways aims to achieve zero accident rate through strengthening of the safety mechanism.

Currently, train accidents are investigated by mostly railway men under the commissioner of railway safety.

However, Prabhu has strongly advocated for creation of a separate organisation comprising forensic experts to investigate accidents in a scientific way and come out with solutions to avoid such incidents in future.

The Railways is working out a strategy to have a dedicated team of experts to investigate train accidents.