The first ever commercial train in India ran from Mumbai to Thane on the 16th of April, 1853. This historic event marked the beginning of a railway network that has an operating distance of more than 65,00 km, making it the fourth largest railway network in the world! This large network of trains and stations transports almost 8 billion passengers and almost 1.05 billion tons of freight every year!
Just a look at these numbers shows that Indian Railways has made significant strides in its 163 years of existence. But it is no secret that it is also plagued by several problems – lack of sanitation, archaic infrastructure, low revenue margin – to name a few.
However, of late, the Railway Ministry, headed by Minister Suresh Prabhu, has taken several concrete steps to solve these pressing issues once and for all.
Photo source: flickr
Here’s a list of the Ministry’s most notable endeavours:
1. Increasing investments
One of the biggest causes of the poor facilities of the Railways is lack of investments. Just a few years ago, for every rupee of revenue that the Railways earned, it spent 93 paise. With such a minute profit margin, IR lost out on several big investors. To change this, it has taken several steps such as improving efficiency, restarting stalled projects and ensuring smooth execution of ongoing projects, thus making IR more inviting to potential investors. It has already tasted success in the field and has managed to raise 1.21 lakh crore rupees.
2. Making the Railways a green entity
IR has taken several steps in this area too. For a start, it has given a boost to its electrification drive, electrifying 1600 km of track in the previous year itself. It is on track to meeting its seven-year target of electrifying 36,000 km of track. Moreover, it is also working to reduce diesel consumption and has introduced dual fuel trains that run on both diesel and CNG. There are also plans to switch major stations to solar power.
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Photo source: Youtube
3. Efforts to increase freight transport
In recent times, Indian Railways has lost out on a lot of revenue due to manufacturers moving their goods to road transport. In a bid to get back lost customers, the Ministry has taken initiatives such as increasing the freight basket from 10 to 40 and ensuring freight trains move on time. The Ministry has also put special focus on transporting automobiles, a decision that is already bearing fruit in terms of revenue.
4. Increasing customer satisfaction
Customer satisfaction is an important issue that is more often than not given too less importance. In a bid to change this, IR has come up with several initiatives, such as introducing a universal helpline for all medical, food and maintenance related issues, bio toilets for better cleanliness and hygiene, etc.
Photo source: Eco Ideaz
5. Making in India
Following PM Modi’s famous call to produce in India, the Railway Ministry has taken several steps to increase manufacturing of train coaches, tracks, etc. For one, the Rae Bareli coach factory’s capacity was tripled to nearly 1200 coaches. Also, several foreign companies have received permission to set up manufacturing facilities in states such as Bihar.
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