On Railway table: New Vande Bharat trains, station revamp model

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Written by Avishek G Dastidar | New Delhi |
August 2, 2021 2:47:00 am

There have also been talks of eying the global market for export. (File/Representational)

New world class Vande Bharat trains, a new model for station redevelopment with private players, economy of scale in freight business and foray into global market with indigenous technology-these are some of the plans Indian Railways is working on for a major turnaround under new Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw.

Officials said that under Vaishnaw, Railways has overhauled the Vande Bharat project, wherein the new trainsets that come in future will have technical specifications that are an upgrade on the current set of Vande Bharat — both in terms of passenger comfort and ride quality.

There have also been talks of eying the global market for export. Officials said that India is only the ninth country in the world to make 180-kmph traisets and at current prices, the Vande Bharat trainsets are cheaper than their global counterparts.

The ambitious station redevelopment project in partnership with private players is also being recast. The Model Concession Agreement for it might be redone with a view to make them more attractive for private players as well as for Railways, sources said.

While only two players have come forward in the first ever tender to run private passenger trains, it has also been decided to overhaul the model completely for better success. Internally, Railways is treating the result of the tender for the 12 clusters as a “good beginning”.

In terms of freight business, the Railways is now exploring a model to bring down the logistics costs, and play with its own freight tariffs to make them more competitive. “By 2024, we aim to overshoot the target and go for maybe 3,000 million tonnes of freight carried in a year, which is around three times the volume carried now,” said a senior official.

Giving a big boost to indigenous manufacturing capability, Railways will also develop its own Train Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) and roll it out through Indian manufacturing partners across 10,000 km to begin with. Renamed “Kavach”, the technology will be an effective alternative for conventional in-cab signalling and also enhance the throughput of the network, officials said.

Vaishnaw is also learnt to have instructed speedy execution of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad project, especially in the Gujarat portion where, unlike Mahrashtra, land acquisition is more or less complete.

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