New Delhi, India (Urban Transport News): In the upcoming Union Budget for 2023-24, the Government will give emphasis on the development of infrastructure, Make in India, High-Speed Rails and the completion of long-awaited incomplete railway projects across the country.
The Government of India is working on increasing the railway budget by 20-25% to strengthen the infrastructure of the entire railway system. There is a possibility of an allocation of nearly Rs 1.8 lakh crore for Railway sector in 2023-24, which was Rs 1.4 lakh crore in 2022-23.
The Union Railway Ministry expecting more allocation in this year's budget for laying new tracks, increasing the number of semi-high-speed Vande Bharat trains, introducing hydrogen-powered trains as well as the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project.
Indian Railways has already demanded more allocation from the Central Government to meet its target of replacing conventional coaches of all express and mail trains with India-made and German-developed Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) coaches.
Apart from commissioning of new dedicated freight corridors and high-speed passenger corridors, multitracking and signaling upgrades of congested routes, Indian Railways aims to rapidly redevelop the infrastructure of more than 1,000 stations under the AMRUT Bharat Station scheme.
The Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train Corridor was hit hard by land acquisition issues. The overall physical progress on the 508.09 km corridor was only 24.73 per cent as on December 31, 2022, according to Railway Ministry. During the financial year 2022-23, this project was allocated Rs 19,102 crore. The cost of the bullet train project is likely to exceed 1.5 times to the estimated amount of Rs 1.08 lakh crore.
"It is likely expected that the Union government will increase the budget of the Railways by up to 20 per cent. Earlier, in the pre-budget meeting, the Railway Board had demanded 25-30 per cent more funds in the budget allocation of the Finance Ministry. This time the Union government can allocate a fund of nearly Rs 2 trillion to the Ministry of Railways in the upcoming budget," said sources.
The Railway Ministry will invest mostly in the modernisation of railways. Along with this, it is also focusing on building better domestic infrastructure for the manufacture of trains. The government is also working on a plan to reduce foreign dependence on the wheels of trains.
The central government may also announce more than 400 new rakes of semi-high speed Vande Bharat trains and over 35 hydrogen-powered passenger trains.
"The year 2023 is widely believed to be a game-changer for the Indian Railways, after the success of the high-speed Vande Bharat Express trains with the introduction of hydrogen-powered Vande Bharat trains, the sleeper coach version of Vande Bharat, in 2023. With this, preparations are being made to make the experience of the passengers memorable along with providing world class services," said sources.
Chenab River Railway Bridge
The world's highest single-arch railway bridge is being built over the Chenab river in Jammu and Kashmir. This 1.3-km-long project with a budget of $9.2 crore will connect the Kashmir Valley to the rest of India through a rail network. The Chenab river railway bridge is a part of the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla rail link project.
The Chenab River Railway Bridge is a joint venture between Afcons Infrastructure (India), VSL India and Ultra Construction & Engineering Company of South Korea. This is another step towards reaching Kashmir through railways.
Delhi-Meerut RRTS Project
Rapid train is to be operated between Delhi to Meerut in the year 2025. This entire railway corridor is to be completed in three sections. Its first section is 17-km-long connecting from Sahibabad to Duhai Depot.
Rapid Rail on this section is to be started for travel from March 2023. The railway track work on this section has been completed. Here the work of installation of overhead equipment line is underway. From March 2023, this train will become operational for passengers between Duhai Depot and Sahibabad.
Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train Project
Construction has begun along a parallel passing through eight districts of Gujarat and the Dadra and Nagar Haveli. After being in limbo for years, the bullet train project has picked up pace recently, including in Maharashtra. According to railway officials, the project could be completed in 2027.
Bairabi-Sairang New Line Railway Project
Work is underway on the Bairabi-Sairang New Line Railway Project to connect the northeastern state of Mizoram with the rest of the country.
After the completion of this project, a new era will begin in terms of communication and commerce in the northeastern region of the country, especially Mizoram. The Bairabi-Sairang project aims to create an additional 51.38 km of railway track in northeast India.
The Bhalukpong-Tawang line is one of the important projects of the northeast, which will cater to the extensive needs of the military in the region where tensions with China have escalated. The proposed railway line will have several tunnels and will be built at altitudes above 10,000 feet.