Following the mantra “Hungry For Cargo,” Indian railways have made constant efforts to improve the convenience of doing business as well as the delivery of services at affordable pricing, resulting in new traffic flowing to railroads from both conventional and non-conventional commodity streams.
The customer-centric attitude and efforts of business development units, along with flexible policymaking, enabled the Railways to break the 1400 MT Freight Loading barrier for the first time in Fiscal Year 2021-22.
With 1512 MT goods loading in FY 2022-23, Indian Railways has achieved its greatest-ever goods loading in any fiscal year.
However, to address specific concerns, perform in-depth studies, and make suggestions for sector reform and development government has been forming committees. A few major committees and their recommendations are:
Rakesh Mohan Committee (National Transport Development Policy Committee (NTPDC)),2010
The Government of India set up the NTDPC in the year 2010, under the chairmanship of Dr. Rakesh Mohan. NTDPC aimed to provide a long-term transport policy for the country up to the year 2029-30.
Following were the recommendations of the committee:
- Railway management and operations should be separated from the government. In the future, the Ministry of Railways should be limited to policymaking.
- A new Railways Regulatory Authority should be established to oversee comprehensive regulation, including tariff setting.
- The Indian Railway Corporation (IRC) (to be established as a statutory corporation) should be in charge of management and operations.
- The accounting system will be redesigned to conform to Indian GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles).
- Indian Railways should take initiatives to gain a large proportion of the fast-growing FMCG, Consumer durable and Information Technology, containerized goods, and other areas where its presence is nil, such as autos.
- A passenger service strategy should involve increasing supply, shifting attention to long-distance and inter-city transportation, increasing speed, and developing select High-Speed Rail corridors.
- Improved connectivity to industry clusters and major ports based on present and expected traffic levels.
- Construction of 15-20 logistics parks in major network centres such as Mumbai, Bangalore, and Delhi NCR
- Priority is given to the construction of six Dedicated Freight Corridors (DFCs).
- Creation of the National Board for Rail Safety and the Railway Research and Development Council.
- Establishing a National Railway Construction Authority, partially autonomous of the Ministry of Railways, to hasten project delivery.
- Multiple railway services and management cadres must be rationalised and consolidated into fewer services.
Sam Pitroda Advisory Committee (2012)
- The committee emphasised the implementation of advanced technologies to modernise Indian Railways. This involved deploying advanced safety technology such as train protection and warning systems, as well as modern signalling and train control systems such as the European Train Control System (ETCS).
- To improve the efficiency of freight transportation, the committee advocated the creation of dedicated freight corridors. These corridors would provide goods trains with private tracks, easing congestion on existing lines and allowing for speedier transportation of commodities.
- To provide faster and more comfortable passenger transit, the committee advocated the building of high-speed rail networks in specific routes. It suggested researching the potential of introducing high-speed trains capable of speeds exceeding 250 km/h.
Kakodkar Committee (2012)
- To improve safety, the committee suggested that tracks and signalling systems be modernised. This includes replacing obsolete signalling equipment with contemporary, computer-based systems, deploying automated track inspection systems, and applying advanced track maintenance and renewal technologies.
- The committee emphasised the significance of safety training for railway personnel, such as train drivers, station personnel, and maintenance workers. It advocated for the construction of specific training institutes as well as the inclusion of safety training programmes in the curriculum.
- The committee recommended that maintenance practises be improved by implementing preventive maintenance measures, performing regular inspections, and addressing maintenance-related concerns as soon as possible. It also advocated for the use of technology for asset condition monitoring and predictive maintenance.
- The committee advocated the establishment of an independent safety regulatory authority to provide effective oversight and regulation of safety measures. This authority would be in charge of establishing safety standards, performing audits, and enforcing compliance.
High-Level Safety Review Committee of Anil Kakodkar (2012)
This committee was formed to examine Indian Railways’ safety practices. Its recommendations were targeted at improving safety measures and preventing accidents. Some key proposals included:
- Adoption of sophisticated signalling and train protection systems to ensure train safety.
- Improving track infrastructure, particularly frequent track inspection and maintenance, can reduce derailments.
- Implementing train collision avoidance technologies to prevent collision-related accidents.
- Strengthening railway safety training programmes, with a focus on hazard detection, emergency response, and best practices.
- Improving the organization’s safety culture and fostering a proactive approach to safety management.
Dinesh Trivedi Committee (2012)
This committee was entrusted with investigating the impact of the fuel price hike on the financial position of Indian Railways. The recommendations are as follows:
- The committee recommended a fare increase to generate additional money for the railways. It suggested a small rise in passenger rates across all classes and categories. The fare change aims to lower the railways’ subsidy load and bring charges closer to cost recovery levels.
- The committee proposed rationalising freight charges to make them more competitive and appealing to freight customers. It advocated a thorough examination of freight prices, taking into account factors such as distance, commodity type, and market demand. The goal was to maximise freight earnings while also attracting greater freight traffic to the railways.
Bibek Debroy Committee (2015)
- The committee proposed that Indian Railways unbundle several services such as infrastructure management, train operations, and station management. This would enable specialisation and increased efficiency.
- The committee advocated the establishment of an independent regulator to oversee the railway sector. The regulator would be in charge of determining fares, maintaining competition, controlling access to railway assets, and assessing service quality.
- The committee recommended that commercial accounting practices be implemented to increase openness in financial reporting and decision-making. This would aid in analysing project financial viability, determining cost structures, and supporting efficient resource allocation.
- The committee stressed the need of using technology to improve operations and customer service. Implementing online ticketing systems, introducing e-ticketing and mobile ticketing choices, and utilising information technology for real-time train tracking and passenger information systems are all part of this.
National Rail Plan 2030
- NRP-2030 aims to harmonise and integrate the rail network with other modes of transportation to achieve a seamless multi-modal transportation network across the country.
- Key focus areas are:
o Promotion of Digital Systems & Smart Technologies for Indian Railways Make in India: Manufacturing for Indian Railways
o Capacity Enhancement and Congestion reduction
o Innovative and Advance Energy Technologies
o Decarbonisation & Energy Efficiency of Indian Railways
o PPP for Container Freight Terminals
o Signalling & Electrification
o Innovative Financing Solutions
o Investment Opportunities for New Projects
o Station Redevelopment
o High-Speed Network
o Security & Safety Measures
o Tools and Trends in the use of Data Analytics for Enhancing Safety
o Big Data & Cybersecurity Challenges
o Enhanced Customer Services
o Introducing New Technologies in Railways Land & Railway Infrastructure
o Enabling Ecosystem of Material Procurement
o Track Modernisation & Renewal of Tracks