The Railways has electrified 48 per cent of the country’s tracks and intends to double the same in the next five years, the Rajya Sabha was told on Friday. “Electrification has the highest pay-back. The amount of electrification that we have done so far, we will be doubling the same in the next five years as it will give us immense returns by way of cost reduction,” Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu said.
Replying to questions, he said electrification of tracks should be for priority of Railways and this will help in pay-back and cost-saving for the public-sector behemoth as well as beneficial for it.
“Electrification all over India is so far 48 per cent of the total route kilometres in the country. In case of Odisha because of concerted efforts, it is 71.4 per cent. Any new broad guage rail line project will be electrified,” he said.
In his written reply, Prabhu said, “Indian Railways have prepared an action plan to electrify 24,400 route kilometres in five years from 2016-17 to 2020-21”.
During the last three years 2014-2017 and for 2017-18, he said a total number of 93 railway electrification projects consisting 16,815 route kms at an estimated cost of Rs 17,165 crore have been included in the Railway Budget.
The pace of electrification, he said, has been increased from the average of 1300 kms per annum to 2000 kms per annum which will further be increased to 4000 kms in 2017-18.
“These efforts have been made to reduce the present traction bill on Indian Railways, thereby likely saving of about Rs 3,300 crore per annum is expected,” he said.
Prabhu said the Railways has also tried to make rail transport greener by sourcing about 1200 MW of solar and wind power by 2020 and by fitting LED bulbs in railways, which will help in saving 1400 crore in traction bill of current year against that in 2014-15.
To another question on SPVs set up jointly with Odisha government, he said now the state would not have to pay 50 per cent required under the agreement.
He said various ongoing projects for Odisha have been announced and these are not a package but are real projects.
“The state government itself acknowledged the fact that Odisha has received more than they have asked for,” he said.
The Minister said Odisha has good resources in minerals and the state has tourism potential and can be promoted as a fantastic tourist spot.
“Investing in Odisha is like investing in the future of the country,” he said.