[Answered] Highlight the present challenges faced by Indian Railway considering the National Rail Plan 2030.

The National Rail Plan 2030 is a long-term plan created by Indian Railways to create a “future ready” railway system in India by 2030. The plan aims to increase the modal share of railways in freight to 45% by formulating strategies based on operational capacities and commercial policy initiatives.

The key objectives of the National Rail Plan 2030 are:

  • Reduce transit time of freight substantially by increasing the average speed of freight trains to 50 kmph.
  • Create capacity ahead of demand, which in turn would cater to growth in demand right up to 2050.
  • Reduce the overall cost of rail transportation by nearly 30% and pass on the benefits to the customers.
  • Improve last-mile connectivity by introducing feeder services, providing better connectivity to airports, and developing multi-modal transportation hubs.
  • Provide better passenger amenities like modern coaches, improved catering services, Wi-Fi facilities, and better station infrastructure.
  • Promote sustainable transportation by reducing the carbon footprint of Indian Railways, promoting the use of renewable energy, and adopting green technologies.

However, these goals are not east to achieve. Challenges faced by the Indian Railways are:

  • Funding is one of the biggest challenges in implementation of the Plan.
  • Punctuality has been the single most important operational index and the headache for the passenger trains.
  • Land Acquisition for the expansion of the railway tracks are most often accompanied by protests from the affected communities.
  • Operational challenges such as congestion on the network, aging infrastructure, and outdated technology reduces the efficiency of the operations.
  • Safety challenges such as accidents due to human error, unmanned level crossings, and inadequate safety infrastructure.

Railway is an important public good, which is being modernised to reflect the ‘New India’. However, the absence of a separate budget seems to have pushed the performance of railways to the background. A separate annual report that contains internal performance metrics should bring railway and its needs back to the foreground again so that the challenges faced by Railway can be resolved.

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