The railways has electrified 48% of the country’s tracks and intends to double the same in the next five years, the Rajya Sabha was told on Friday.
“Electrification has the highest pay-back. The amount of electrification that we have done so far, we will be doubling the same in the next five years as it will give us immense returns by way of cost reduction,” railways minister Suresh Prabhu said.
He said electrification of tracks should be a priority of railways which will help in payback and cost-saving for the public-sector behemoth as well as beneficial for it.
“In case of Odisha because of concerted efforts, electrification is 71.4%. Any new broad guage rail line project will be electrified,” he said.
In his written reply, Prabhu said, “Indian Railways have prepared an action plan to electrify 24,400 route kilometres in five years from 2016-17 to 2020-21”.
During the last three years, 2014-2017 and for 2017-18, he said a total number of 93 railway electrification projects consisting 16,815 route km at an estimated cost of Rs 17,165 crore have been included in the railway budget.
The pace of electrification, he said, had been increased from the average of 1,300 km per annum to 2,000 km per annum which will further be increased to 4,000 km in 2017-18.
“These efforts have been made to reduce the present traction bill on Indian Railways, thereby likely saving of about Rs 3,300 crore per annum is expected,” he said.
Prabhu said the railways had also tried to make rail transport greener by sourcing about 1,200 MW of solar and wind power by 2020 and by fitting LED bulbs in railways, which will help in saving 1,400 crore in traction bill of current year against that in 2014-15.
To another question on SPVs set up jointly with Odisha government, he said now the state would not have to pay 50 per cent required under the agreement.
He said various ongoing projects for Odisha have been announced and these are not a package but are real projects.
“The state government itself acknowledged the fact that Odisha has received more than they have asked for,” he said.
The minister said Odisha had good resources in minerals and the state has tourism potential and can be promoted as a fantastic tourist spot. “Investing in Odisha is like investing in the future of the country,” he said.