Transformation of Indian Railways
Rapid modernization and expansion of railways in every direction have enhanced India’s global stature
India is at the beginning of its ‘Amrit Kaal’ (golden age) as it is moving towards the goal of development. There is new energy, new inspiration, and new determination. In this light, a new chapter is also beginning in the history of Indian Railways today.
Approximately 1300 major railway stations in India will now be developed as ‘Amrit Bharat Railway Stations’ and they will be redeveloped and modernized. Today, the work of redevelopment has commenced for 508 Amrit Bharat stations. An estimated 25,000 crores of rupees will be spent on the construction of these 508 Amrit Bharat stations.
You can imagine how significant this campaign is going to be for the country’s infrastructure, for the railways, and most importantly, for the common citizens of my country. The benefits of this project will be enjoyed by almost all states in the country. For example, approximately 4,000 crores of rupees will be spent to develop 55 Amrit stations in Uttar Pradesh. Rajasthan will also have 55 railway stations transformed into Amrit Bharat Stations. In Madhya Pradesh, around 1,000 crores of rupees will be spent to redevelop 34 stations. More than 2,500 crores of rupees will be spent on the development of 44 stations in Maharashtra. Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Kerala will also see their major stations developed as Amrit Bharat Stations.
Today, the whole world’s attention is on India. India’s stature has grown at the global level, and the world’s attitude towards India has changed. There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, the country has formed a government with a full majority after nearly three decades, after thirty years, and that is the first reason. The second reason is that the government with a full majority has taken significant decisions with clarity, working tirelessly to find permanent solutions to challenges while respecting the sentiments of the people.
Today, Indian Railways has also become a symbol of this transformation. The statistics and information about the amount of work done in the railways in the past years pleases everyone as well as surprises them. For instance, in the last nine years, India has laid more railway tracks than countries like South Africa, Ukraine, Poland, the UK, and Sweden. Imagine the scale of this achievement. In just one year, India has built more tracks than the entire railway networks of countries like South Korea, New Zealand, and Austria.
The number of modern trains in India is also increasing rapidly. The country’s goal now is to make railway travel comfortable and enjoyable for every passenger, every citizen. Efforts are being made to provide better and excellent experiences from the trains to the stations. Platforms are getting better seating arrangements, and good waiting rooms are being built. Today, thousands of railway stations in the country offer free Wi-Fi facilities. We have seen how many young people have benefitted from this free internet, achieving great things in their lives after studying there.
These are significant achievements, the way work has been carried out in the railways. Railways are often referred to as the lifeline of our country. Alongside this, our cities’ identity is also linked to their railway stations. Over time, these railway stations have now become the ‘heart of the city.’ All major activities of the city revolve around railway stations. Therefore, it is crucial today to transform our railway stations into modern and efficient spaces and ensure the optimum utilization of railway infrastructure.
When the country will have so many new and modern stations, it will lead to a new atmosphere of development. When any tourist, whether domestic or foreign, will arrive at these modern stations by train he will be impressed by the first glimpse of the state and your city and it will become a memorable experience for him. Tourism will receive a boost due to the modern facilities.
The presence of good amenities around the stations will also promote economic activities. The government has initiated the ‘One Station, One Product’ scheme to connect the stations with the identity of cities and states. This will benefit the people of the entire region, including workers and artisans, and also enhance the branding of the district.
The country has also taken pride in its heritage in the ‘Amrit Kaal’ of Independence. These Amrit Railway stations will also become symbols of that pride, filling us with a sense of honour. These stations will showcase glimpses of the country’s culture and local heritage. For instance, Jaipur Railway Station will exhibit glimpses of Rajasthan’s heritage, such as Hawa Mahal and Amer Fort. Jammu Tawi Railway Station in Jammu and Kashmir will be inspired by the famous Raghunath Temple. Dimapur station in Nagaland will display the local traditional art of its 16 tribes.
Every Amrit station will serve as a symbol of the city’s modern aspirations and ancient heritage. In recent times, the country has introduced the Bharat Gaurav Tourist Train to connect various historical sites and pilgrimage places across the nation. You may have noticed that these initiatives are being strengthened as well.
In order to transform any system, it is essential to recognize its potential. The Indian Railways indeed has immense potential to accelerate growth. With this vision, we have made record investments in the railways over the past 9 years. This year, the Railways has been allocated a budget of more than two and a half lakh crore rupees. This budget is more than five times the budget of 2014. Today, we are working with a holistic approach for the overall development of the railways. In these 9 years, there has been a nine-fold increase in locomotive production. Currently, the country is manufacturing 13 times more HLB (High Capacity Locomotive) coaches than before.
Our government has also given priority to the expansion of railways in the North East. There is rapid progress in doubling railway lines, gauge conversion, electrification, and the construction of new routes. Soon, the capitals of all the North Eastern states will be connected to the railway network. A second railway station has been established in Nagaland after 100 years. The commissioning of new railway lines in the North East is three times higher compared to the previous years.
In the last 9 years, 2200 kilometers of dedicated freight corridors have been built, which has significantly reduced the travel time for freight trains. Earlier, it used to take an average of 72 hours to transport goods from Delhi-NCR to Western ports, be it Gujarat’s coastal region or Maharashtra’s coastal region. Now, the same goods can reach their destination within 24 hours. Similarly, time reductions of up to 40 per cent have been achieved on other routes as well.
The reduction in travel time means that freight trains are running at higher speeds, and goods are reaching their destinations more quickly. This improvement has brought substantial benefits to our entrepreneurs, businessmen, and especially our farmer brothers and sisters. Our fruits and vegetables are now reaching different corners of the country at a much faster pace. When such transportation is expedited in the country, our products will also reach the world market faster. Our small-scale industries and craftsmen producing various goods will be able to access global markets more rapidly.
You have all seen how there used to be so many difficulties due to the limited number of railway over bridges in the past. Before 2014, there were fewer than 6,000 railway over bridges and under bridges in the country. Today, the number of over bridges and under bridges has exceeded 10,000. The number of human level crossings on major lines in the country has also been reduced to zero. Today, special attention is being given to the needs of the elderly and Divyang individuals while constructing facilities for passengers on railway platforms and trains.
Our focus is not only on modernizing Indian Railways but also on making it environmentally friendly. Very soon, almost 100% of India’s railway tracks will be electrified, meaning that all trains will run solely on electricity in just a few years. You can imagine how this will have a significant positive impact on the environment.
In the past 9 years, the number of railway stations generating electricity from solar panels has exceeded 1,200. The goal is to make all stations green energy-powered in the future. Approximately 70,000 coaches in our trains have been fitted with LED lights. The number of bio-toilets in trains is now 28 times more compared to 2014. All these new Amrit stations will also adhere to green building standards. By 2030, India aims to become a country where its railway network will operate with zero emissions.
In recent years, the Indian Railways has become a significant source of employment for the youth. About one and a half lakh young individuals have secured permanent jobs in the railways alone. Additionally, the investment of billions of rupees in infrastructure has created job opportunities for millions of young people.
At present, the central government is also running a campaign to provide employment to ten lakh youths. ‘Rozgar Melas’ (job fairs) are being organized regularly, and young individuals are receiving appointment letters. This changing image of India reflects how development is offering new opportunities to the youth who are giving wings to development.
(Excerpts from the approximate translation of PM’s speech at laying of foundation stone for redevelopment of 508 railway stations in 27 states and UTs on 06 AUG 2023)