The Union cabinet on Wednesday approved a proposal for the complete electrification of Indian Railways in the next four years, reducing dependance on imported fossil fuel and saving revenue for the national carrier. The move will cost the government ₹12,134 crore, rail minister Piyush Goyal said after a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA).
Indian Railways had moved the cabinet to electrify 108 sections of the railways covering 13,675 route kilometers of tracks. The government backed the proposal saying it will help the carrier save ₹13,510 crore per annum in fuel costs. Besides, complete electrification of broad gauge routes will have a significant impact on safety, capacity and speed.
Indian Railways is one of the largest rail networks in the world with 67,368km of tracks and 22,550 trains that carry 22.24 million passengers and 3.04 million tonnes of freight every day. Indian trains primarily run on electricity or diesel. Currently, around two-third of freight and more than half of passenger traffic in Indian Railways are ferried by electric traction (engines). However, electric traction accounts for just 37% of the total energy expenses of Indian Railways.