Track renewal picks pace: Goyal effect or renewed focus on safety?

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal gestures as he addresses a press conference in New Delhi. (Photo: PTI)The pace of rail track renewal in the past seven months, since Piyush Goyal took charge of the Indian Railways, has picked up.Tracks of some 3,300 km have been laid afresh. This is about 700 km more than what the Railways did in 2016-17. In 2017-18, tracks of 4,405 km were upgraded.“Tracks of 3,296 km were renewed in the seven months since October last year, while 2,597 km was done during the previous fiscal year. This was mainly due to the increased availability of rail since January this year,” said a government official.The Railways recently invited a Rs 20-billion global tender for procuring rails.Goyal took charge of the ministry in September after a series of accidents, following which the minister focused on safety-related measures.Since January this year, work was done on 2,075 km, with March posting track renewal of 642 km, the highest ever in a month.“In April, it came down to around 350 km, but the pace of work is going to increase because the Railway Board has said there will be no dearth of funds for safety-related works,” he added.The upgrade includes replacing and strengthening old tracks. For the past few months, the Railways has been citing work on tracks as the primary reason for trains being behind schedule.Many international players such as Sumitomo Corporation, Angang Group International, Voestalpine Schienen, East Metals, CRM Hong Kong, British Steel France Rail, Atlantic Steel, and Jindal Steel & Power had participated in it. The bidding had faced opposition from the steel ministry, which said this did not tie in with Make in India policy.SAIL’s Bhilai Steel Plant is the only unit from which railways procures tracks, both for renewal and replacement. On average, the plant supplies 700,000-800,000 tonnes of rail to the national transporter.Owing to the renewed focus on safety, after many years the number of accidents was a double-digit figure, 73, in 2017-18.
Source: Business Standard