Indian Railways started in 1836; it is the world’s fourth-largest rail network, operated by a single government. Millions of people depend on it, maybe because of travel needs or for running their livelihood. Changes in this affect each individual who resides in India, whether it is about introducing baby berths on trains or constructing freight corridors. Back in 2014, the network decided to do its complete electrification. But, the controversy is still on. People are confused if it is a good decision or not.
Indian Railways covers the length of 67,956 Km. Today, 80% of route kilometres (RKM) have been fully electrified. Let’s know all about Indian Railways electrification, its advantages and disadvantages.
What does Electrification of Indian Railway Mean?
Electric traction of Indian Railways supplies electric power to trains instead of diesel fuel. It is a process to electrify the broad gauge train routes. First, in 1925 electrification was introduced for Indian Railways with 1500 Volts DC and presently, installing 3000 Volts DC system in the railway network. Before Independence, the Railway had electrified 388 route kilometres. And till 2014, it has completed the electrification of 21,413 kilometres. After introducing the mission of #100%Electrification, the railways have the fastest process of electric traction of railway lines.
The Central Organisation for Railway Electrification (CORE) is responsible for railway electrification of the Indian Railways network.It is the organisational unit of the Indian Railways, established in 1979, whose main objective is to electrify the railway tracks. The Central Organisation for Railway Electrification has 9 units in Ahmedabad, Ambala, Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata, Jaipur, Lucknow, Guwahati, and Secunderabad.
Advantages of Electrification in Railway
- Electrification of Indian Railways is promoting the theme of green railway services. It will provide an excellent energy source as an alternative to fossil fuels to ensure an environment-friendly, pollution-free, and energy-efficient mode of transport.
- It will reduce the dependency of the nation on Petroleum-based energy.
- More heavy passengers and freight trains can run on the railway line.
- An electric traction system is less pollutant and reduces noise and air pollution. It will benefit flora and fauna.
- It will lead to sustainable development by reducing carbon emissions.
- The electrification has employed over 5.5 lakh people.
- It is expected that after post-electrification, Railways will save 1,45,666 crore Indian rupees.
- Electric locomotives have a long life, are cheaper, faster, and less complex.
- With Electrification, Railway has also introduced optical fibre technology that will smooth the communication between guard and loco pilot.
Disadvantages of Indian Railway Electrification
- Indian Railways has to spend high capital costs on electric traction. In the financial year budget 2023, Railways has received 1.40 Lakh crore considering the Indian Railways electrification mission.
- The rail project is targeted to be completed in less time but also needs more human and machine resources, which might cost high and hamper the economical balance of the nation.
- Electrification will also bring the need for electric locomotives to replace the diesel engine.
- In the electrification of Railways, there is a chance of electrical hazards.
- There can also be vulnerability to power interruptions due to electrification.
- Communication systems might get affected because of it.
Why are Indian Railways Considering Full Electrification?
Some disadvantages of Indian Railways include its high infrastructure cost, interruption in communication systems, and electrical problems. However, its advantages are enough to tackle them. Post electrification, railways will be able to save more money and petroleum-based energy.
With electrification, the Railway has also introduced an optical fibre technology-based mobile communication system through which the loco pilot of the train and guard can conveniently exchange information with each other on moving trains. That’s why the Ministry of Railway focuses on the complete electrification of Indian Railways.
Present Status of Railway Electrification
Indian Railways has completed the electrification of 52,247 route kilometres (RKM) out of 65,414 RKM as of April 2022. According to railways, the electrification will be completed by 2023-24. Notably, Indian Railways has electrified 6366 route kilometres in the Financial Year 2021-22, the highest railway track electrification route length.
Some other achievements of Indian Railway electrification: the Konkan Rail Network has completed electric traction on its 741-kilometre railway route passing through Maharashtra, Goa, and Karnataka along the western coast, South Central Railway has achieved electrification on 163 km railway lines of Andhra Pradesh. Similarly, North Western Railway has achieved electrification of 168km. Kolkata Metro, West Central Railway, and East Coast Railway electrification have also been completed.
Which Is India’s First Electrified Indian Railway Zone?
Western Central Railway Zone is the first completely electrified rail zone of Indian Railways.
When Did India’s First Electric Train Start Running?
On 3rd February 1925, the first electric train ran in India between Bombay VT and Kurla Harbour on 1500 volt DC.
How Does Railway Electrification Affect Common People?
Indian Railway electrification has the fastest movement of trains. It can also increase freight and passenger trains’ capacity as Railways can add more wagons. It may lead to seamless train operation. Additionally, the Electrification process demands human sources, which generates vacancies. People can get jobs in Indian Railways and enhance their lifestyle.
What is the Perspective of RailMitra on Electrification of Railways?
RailMitra considers the electrification of railways a good decision as it is beneficial for the long term. It will lead to eco-friendly and green railways that will lead to the fastest and more efficient rail ride. The initiative will ease the passengers’ journey experience by ensuring their comfort. Rail apps like RailMitra will also work more systematically and let users check PNR status, trains between stations, seat availability, train fare, and live train running status comfortably.
RailMitra is an AI-based rail enquiry app or website that helps rail passengers get various rail information and order food on trains.
RailMitra wishes Indian Railways to achieve Mission 100% Electrification soon by setting a benchmark for sustainable development.