In a fresh boost to railway infrastructure, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said the ministry is set to issue larger electrification tenders that are expected to speed up the electrification process.
Instead of the railways issuing tenders for electrification of only 30-40 km, it will now give tenders of for minimum of 500 km of track, according to a report in the Mint.
Last month, the railway minister claimed that he was trying to speed up the electrification process as it would reduce expenditure amounting to Rs 16,000 crore spent on diesel.
This year’s electrification target has been doubled from last year to 4,000 route kilometer (Rkm).
Starting in 1985, Indian Railway phased out steam-run locomotives and supplanted them with diesel and electric dependent ones.
Presently, the railways have 27,999 Rkm of electrified tracks as of April, 2016, out of total network of 66,030 Route Kilometers, as per the railway minister of state Rajen Gohain. The minister presented the figures in a reply to Rajya Sabha (unstarred question no. 3474).
But contradictory data is presented by the annual report of the ministry where it claims 23,555 Rkm electrification has been achieved out of total 66,687 Rkm till 2015-16.
Electric traction requires higher capital investment. But the Railways argues that it is more efficient in terms of energy cost and carbon emission.
Earlier this year, former Railway minister Suresh Prabhu had stressed the need to shift from diesel to electric. During his tenure, the ministry has come up with Mission 41k which aims to save Rs 41,000 crore in the next decade in terms of energy cost.
In 2014-15, the total expenditure on energy was over Rs 30,000 crore for Railways, and about two thirds of it was spent on diesel traction.
“In next 6 -7 years target has been set to run 90 percent of the traffic on electric traction,” the Ministry said in a press statement.
According to Mission 41k, the ministry aims to electrify 24,000-km of rail tracks over the five years.