A change in electrification criterion in April 2017, with retrospective effect, helped the government add “already electrified 3,090 rkm” to its credit.
In the last five years, the Indian Railways added around 10,500 route kilometre (rkm) of electrification of tracks.
However, an analysis of the numbers indicates that a change in electrification criterion in April 2017, with retrospective effect, helped the government add “already electrified 3,090 rkm” to its credit.
In March 2015, the Indian Railways had informed the Lok Sabha that 38 per cent, or 24,891 rkm, of the total 65,436 rkm was electrified.
In December 2018, it further added that 30,212 or 44.8 per cent of the entire network had been electrified.
Going by this data, railways had added only 5,321 km during the first four years till 2017-18.
However, in February 2019, it claimed that railways added 8,411 km in four years, stating that 32,245 km got electrified by January 2019.
Even this data suggested that the national transporter added only 7,354 km till January 2019.
Responding to emailed queries, the Indian Railways said the metric of electrification was changed from 2.2 kV (kilovolts) energisation to 25 kV and commissioning was with effect from April 1, 2017.
Based on the old criteria, the railways had reported electrification of 24,891 rkm of tracks in March 2014.
However, after change in criteria (in 2017), the total electrified tracks in 2014 came down to 21,801 rkm.
“At that point of time, Commission of Railway Safety (CRS) commissioned sections were only 21,801 rkm, while the remaining 3,090 rkm was with only antitheft charging,” the railways response said.
Based on the latest available data after the revised criterion, between April 2014 and January 2019, the Indian Railways commissioned 10,444 rkm, adding 2,033 rkm till January 2018-19.
A senior railway official told Business Standard that the pace of electrification gathered momentum after Piyush Goyal took charge of the ministry in September 2017.
“He ensured that availability of funds was never an issue. In addition, targets were also increased after railways changed its strategy to go for 100 per cent electrification since he took charge,” he added.
Officials indicate that the introduction of new agencies such as RITES, IRCON and PowerGrid Corporation for execution of electrification works, along with adoption of EPC-based contracting system and emphasis on mechanised execution, helped railways improve the numbers.
According to the data available with railways, from 2010-11 to 2013-14, only 2,617 rkm had been electrified, as compared to 8,411 rkm in the next four years.
“One should compare apple with apple, not with orange. A changed criterion has indeed given an advantage of 3,090 rkm in these four years.
"No major railway network in the world is 100 per cent electrified too,” said an industry expert.
With plans to go for 100 per cent electrification, the national transporter is expected to electrify another 28,000 rkm starting from 2019-20, which may see an investment of around $6-7 billion.
Photograph: PTI Photo