India’s National Rail Plan Wants 45% Market Share, Use of AI, Capacity Creation

Indian Railways (IR) is planning to increase its share among all other competing modes of transport to 45 per cent.

To achieve this, the National Rail Plan (NRP) – 2030 was discussed by the Railway Board top brass along with General Managers, Principal Heads of Departments, DRMs and other important Railway officials over the weekend.

The plan envisages the creation of capacity, development of infrastructure and enhancement of Indian Railways’ market share to 45 per cent of competing modes of transport. NRP aims to create capacity by 2030 which will cater to demand for the next two decades.

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The presentation on NRP discussed strategies to increase modal freight share and identified infrastructural projects along with a timeline for targeted completion.

Key Projects in the National Rail Plan 2030

Important works targeted for completion include phase-wise up-gradation of speeds on the Golden Quadrilateral/Golden Diagonals (GD/GQ), first to 130 kmph and then to 160 kmph.

IR plans to eliminate manned level crossings through the construction of ROB/RUBs on GQ/GD routes. Besides, construction of the Dedicated Freight Corridors and high-speed corridors on routes with heavy freight and passenger demand is also planned, according to the NRP.

Completion of doubling works, yard remodelling works on trunk routes, construction of flyovers, installation of advanced signalling systems, use of longer loops on wayside stations, construction of major bridges /tunnels at strategic locations are on the anvil.

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Increasing the speed of goods trains, zero-base timetabling, focus on track renewal based on traffic handled versus wear and tear on any route, besides real-time tracking of locos and rolling stock using technology is also being envisaged.  

Use of Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Artificial Intelligence-based evaluation of different business models is envisaged in the National Rail Plan 2030. Use of data analysis and AI on railways is part of 21 efficiency improvement items identified by the Railway Board.

IR generates a huge amount of data in passenger and freight business segments. This data is available with IR, railway owned PSUs and a few original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in field of maintenance of railway assets.

South Central Railway Nominated as IR’s Artificial Intelligence Hub

This has been entrusted to a team headed by General Manager South Central Railway (SCR) with SCR nominated as the centre of excellence for AI and data analysis on IR.

SCR has roped in Indian School of Business to provide technical support and to nurture Indian Railways’ in-house talent. ISB has already trained 87 officers from different zonal railways and production units. More such officers will be in a phased manner.

Use of data analysis and artificial intelligence will help IR run trains on demand, utilise capacity effectively, improve quality of services through accurate demand prediction, cost control through optimum resource utilization, accurate future planning of assets required besides improving employee skillsets/satisfaction thereby reducing grievances.

These measures are likely to enable IR in enhancing modal share in freight and passenger segment up to 45 per cent. 

What is Indian Railways National Rail Plan 2030?

NRP-2030 is an endeavour to harmonise and integrate the rail network with other modes of transport and create synergy for achieving seamless multi modal transportation network across the country.

The NRP also envisages the development of new corridors and connections while simultaneously taking care of existing corridors.

The object is to facilitate easy movement of freight and passengers, and access to resources and services with reliability, safety and convenience to secure an environmentally efficient and long term sustainable rail transport system.

For this, IR sought inputs from all stakeholders including different ministries, states, and trade bodies.

National Rail Plan 2030 and Integrated Planning

NRP aims to do integrated planning and cost optimization of the transportation network by laying the new railway lines and new highways together in tunnels and over mega-bridges.

Earlier, planning on IR was not based on some integrated plan. Routes surveys were initially done as per demands of public representatives. Post this some of these lines were later sanctioned.

The NRP proposes to reverse this process by having a network plan in place first, before starting the surveys.

The network plan will factor in connectivity to backward regions, congestion in the existing network besides futuristic development of industrial corridors. Removing deficits in the existing network and addressing huge regional imbalances are also part of the NRP agenda.

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