The Modi Years – How Bharatiya Railway Has Improved Under NDA Government (Part 3)

Bharatiya Railway is one of the largest and densest railway network in world with most number of passengers boarding per kilometres. The magnitude and intricacy of the Bharatiya railway system is hardly paralleled by any other transportation network in the world. Despite the heterogeneity and multifariousness of Bharatiya society and culture, the railways has stood the ground in providing prodigious service to the populace.

Bharatiya railway system is the main artery of county’s surface transportation. Railway is like an artificially manufactured river system of transportation virtually forming the lifeline of the country. Catering to its need for large scale movement of traffic, spearheading the economic growth at the same time promoting national integration. Railway has become the backbone of surface transportation in the country.

To ensure this intricate yet magnificent system functions, its infrastructure must be robust and proficient of catering to needs of the hour. This government under the leadership of PM Narendra Modi acknowledges the need to build robust and world class infrastructure for sustainable development of the nation-state. The government has done amply better in most of the fields of railway infrastructure and astonishingly better in some of the areas.

Here we will look into major improvements/developments bought into railway infrastructure by this government.

Commissioning of New Lines, Gauge Conversions and Doubling of tracks

These three fields are of paramount importance in the run for development and transformation in the railway sector. The Ministry of Railways under this NDA government has done stellar work in all three fields.

NDA government, as per 2018 data, commissioned 2,555 kilometres of new lines in the first 4 years of its governance. This is significant increase from 2,385 Km of new lines commissioned under UPA-2’s last 4 years. The average pace of commissioning of new lines, when compared to previous tenure, has increased by 59 percentage from 4.1 km per day in UPA’s last four years to 6.53 km per day in NDA’s first four years.

Whereas on the gauge conversion front, NDA under PM Modi has converted 3,396 Km of routes to broad gauge in its 4 years against the 2,701 Km of gauge conversion under the previous government. The tale is no different on the doubling of tracks. Under previous UPA government 2,932 kilometres of tracks were doubled. Whereas this government has, up to 2018, doubled 3,557 kilometres of tracks.  

Fields New Lines (Km) Gauge Conversion (Km) Doubling (Km)
First Four Years Of NDA 2,555 3,396 3,557
Last Four Years Of UPA 2,385 2,701 2,932

(Source: Swarajya Magazine )

More Foot Overbridge and Road Overbridge, Underbridge & Subways

Foot overbridges are important and useful part of railway stations and infrastructure as a whole. They are not only useful in safeguarding suave displacement and movement of people but are also vital in enhancement of security of the travellers at the station.

Government has done comparatively excellent job in ensuring greater constructions of foot overbridges. During first four years of NDA government, 74 foot overbridges were constructed against 23 constructed by previous UPA, registering 221 percent increase in the rate.

More exceptional performance has been on construction of more road overbridges, under bridges and subways. NDA tenure saw 3 times more construction of all three than the previous years. A total of 1,220 road overbridges, underbridges and subways were constructed under this government’s watch, way more than total 415 constructed by Congress led UPA in its tenure.

Increase in production of better coaches

Bharatiya Railway is now focusing on not just procurement but also production of better Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) coaches. Government doesn’t shy away from stating those coaches are manufactured in Bharat, for Bharat under ‘Make in India’ scheme. LHB coaches are safer, faster and more reliable than its counterparts.

“The LHB coaches are lightweight modern coaches that can attain higher speed and, at the same time, are equipped with anti-climbing feature that stops the coaches from climbing on top of each other in case of accidents, thus reducing casualties.” informs TSG in a column.

UPA government in its 10 years of rule, from 2004 to 2014, produced/manufactured 233 LHB coaches. Modi led NDA government in its tenure has produced 6 times more LHB coaches per year with total rate standing at 1,387 coaches per year. The government has constantly increased the production year-by-year in its tenure competing efficaciously with itself every year.

The production has increased steadily from 555 in 2014/15, 1,044 in the next year of 2015/16, and 1,469 in the 2016/17 to ultimately reaching 2,076 (up to February 2018) in the financial year 2017/18.   

LHB Coach Production

Year LHB Coach Produced
2014-15 555
2015-16 1,044
2016-17 1,469
2017-18 (Till Feb 2018) 2,076
Total 5,144

(Source: Press Information Bureau )

Faster Electrification and Renewal of Tracks

Bharatiya trains are high fuel consuming trains which has proven to become heavy weight on shoulders of railways both, economically and ecologically over the years. This government took the issue on priority and is planning to holistically electrify all broad gauge network of the country.

Considering that electrification of all tracks assists in saving on the imported fuel costs and in improving running speed therefore ensuring smoother operations in railways, Bharatiya Railways launched ‘Mission Electrification’ in 2017 to 100% electrify all broad gauge rail tracks by financial year 2021 (revised from previously FY 2022/23). Around 38,000 Km of broad gauge network route is yet to be electrified.

In 2013/14, previous UPA government electrified total 610 Km of route whereas in 2017/18, BJP led NDA, ensuring a 570% increase, carried out electrification of 4,087 Km of railway tracks. Total electrification of railway routes, apart from saving ₹ 10,000 crore, will also aid the country in catering to the need of lowering expenditure on imported fuels and in fighting climate change.

The government has also carried out more renewal of existing railway tracks along with drastic improvement in pace of renewal. Under UPA tenure 2,926 Km of rail tracks were renewed which exceedingly increased to 4,405 Km of tracks renewed. This government with 50% increase in renewal rate has ensured highest ever track renewal.

Quicker Track Laying

Bharatiya Railways laid new tracks at faster rate, which include multiple track related works i.e. laying new tracks, doubling tracks and gauge conversions. The rate of laying new tracks under NDA government, in comparison to previous UPA government, was 11.5% faster.

Railways laid 7,666 Km of tracks during 2014-17 of NDA tenure, which is 794 Km more than the UPA-2’s initial three years from 2009-12. PM Modi while addressing the nation from Red Fort said “the railway tracks are being laid at double the speed”. Ministry of Railways from 2014 onwards has done exceptional on ground work and quicker track laying is one of the many examples of it.

Station Redevelopment Program

World class railways stations and high level passenger/traveler amenities facilities are integral to the modernization of Bharatiya Railways. Modi led government, understanding the need, has started the initial level works for redevelopment of major railways stations of the country. Under a humongous monetary initiative espousing $1 trillion of investment for redeveloping 600 stations (earlier 400) across the nation, government is eying multifold and robust infrastructural transformation in Bharatiya railways stations.

Government is planning to redevelopment or upgrade 600 A1 and A category stations by monetizing 2,700 acres of land under ₹10,70,000 crore investment strategy. Subsequent monetization of land, ₹680,000 crore (US$95 billion) will be used for the commercial development, ₹280,000 crore (US$39 billion) for station redevelopment and the remaining ₹110,000 crore (US$15 billion) as surplus with the Railways

Under the redevelopment initiative, 68 stations are slated for improvement by March 2019. Initial works include beatifying of stations by local arts. By the start of 2019, 60 stations have already been beatified using local arts and local artists.

Mega initiative has been kick started for world class transformation of high footfall stations. Habibganj, station in Madhya Pradesh’s capital Bhopal, is being developed as country’s first world class railways station on lines of Germany’s Heidelberg railway stations. 40% of redevelopment work has already been completed by this year’s initial months.

“Habibganj station is the first railway station to be redeveloped through public-private partnership mode under the station redevelopment program of Bharatiya Railways. Total Estimated cost of works towards station redevelopment is Rs 100 Cr and estimated cost towards commercial development is approx. Rs 350. Cr”, informs nodal agency of station redevelopment initiative – IRSDC.

A model of Habibganj railways station poised to become Bharat’s first world class ‘airport-like’ railways station. Image – Financial Express.

Fruits of government’s initiatives are starting to reap. Varanasi’s Manduadih railway station is the latest jewel in the crown of Bharat’s magnificent infrastructural reformation. Recently ANI, South Asia’s prominent news agency, shared images of Manduadih stations transformational new ‘airport-like’ look. Manduadih stands as an example of ambitions turning into reality and running as flag-bearers of development in the run for next level transformation.

Image of front view of Manduadih railways station, Varanasi redeveloped as ‘airport-like’ station. Image – ANI/Twitter.

PM Narendra Modi led NDA government has performed stellar reforms in infrastructural sector of railways and has managed to be magnificent in execution on ground level. Such is the developmental progress that it is hard to fathom all the works done and initiatives taken by the government in small space.

There has been significant improvement in expenditure over the rail infrastructure sector during the past five years. The Bharatiya Railways’ network has witnessed tremendous and exceptional progress in the five-year rule of the Narendra Modi government, registering the unsurpassed and preeminent performance in the areas of rail safety and modernization of infrastructure.

A comparative analysis of rail developmental works undertaken by the Modi government with that of the UPA rule, puts the Modi government in magnificent and bravura light with seamless and prudent developmental works undertaken. The government has shown that it possess the physical and mental prowess to exercise what’s best for country.

The Narendra Modi government marks the end of a legacy of mellifluous disingenuous promises, phoney and incongruous electoral adventurism and spurious corrupt initiatives, inherited by Congress led UPA government.

(Read Part 2 of the series here.)

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About the Author

Yogendra Thakur
A student and two time state topper in Astrophysics and Art of Lecturing. Primary focus areas are Indology and Economics.