NEW DELHI: The Railways Minister Piyush Goyal has said that route electrification of railways in the country was going on full speed and electrification work on 6,000 km will be completed by the next year. As per the plan, it’s been proposed to electrify 7,000 km in the year 2019-20 and 10,500 km would be electrified in the year 2020-21.
In reply to a supplementary question raised by AIIDMK member K Gopal in Lok Sabha on Wednesday during Question Hour, the Railways Minister said, “Electrification of locomotives is a good idea as it helps in saving precious foreign exchange and import of diesel. It’s environment-friendly too as it ensure that the pollution caused by trains is significantly reduced.”
Surprisingly, a question on electrification raised by parliamentarian Jagdambika Pal put Goyal in a tight spot as the Rail Minister was not ‘aware’ of the sanctioned project about which Pal has sought the details.
When Pal enquired about the commencement of electrification work of a railway line in Uttar Pradesh which is parallel to Nepal, in his reply, the minister said that the railway line is yet to be sanctioned. However, Goyal corrected himself soon after his junior colleague Manoj Sinha, who was sitting just behind him in the House, updated him about the project.
In a veiled attack on the ousted UPA government, the Rail Minister said, “A total of 610 km was commissioned in 2013-14, while it was 4,087 km in 2017-18 which is almost seven times the previous figure. The target is to reach 6,000 km of broad gauge routes by the next year.”
In reply to the question over the fate of diesel locomotives raised by Gopal, the Rail Minister said, “Diesel locomotives will continue to be used as the electrification progress albeit at a lower level. It will be used as a standby arrangement. Whenever there is any breakdown or any requirement in border areas, diesel locomotives will be used.”
“The government has also found a new way to convert diesel locomotives into electric ones at less cost when those locomotives come up for the periodic overhaul after their routine life is over. So, no diesel locomotive will go waste,” the minister said.