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New Delhi : Minister for Railways & Coal Piyush Goyal on August 28, 2018, inaugurated Smart Railway Conclave organised by FICCI in New Delhi. In his opening remarks, he reiterated Government’s commitment to ensure a smart Railway and a smart nation so that every citizen of India gets a better future. He also emphasised on smart planning, smart project implementation being put into effect holistically in Railways.

Goyal said, “India has undoubtedly the unique opportunity to leapfrog. But before that, some basic elements will have to be sorted out, and that’s what this Government has focused on over the last four years. Over 64 years of Independence till 2014, the infrastructure in Railways grew by merely about 12%. Due to parcelling out small amounts of money over different projects, cost kept escalating. We still have some projects which were started during the Emergency. There was a total investment in Railways of Rs 2.3 lakh crore from 2009-14. The Government has ramped it up to Rs 5.3 lakh crore. But it’s not about ramping up, but about how you invest that money. Under the leadership of PM Narendra Modi, I have the courage of conviction to say that we are influencing the future in a positive, progressive and smart direction.”

“With the debate going on about the bullet train, I believe that it’s our duty to engage with most modern technology and bring it to India and let the people of India enjoy the benefits of the best in class,” he said. For Railways, it is a network working 22,000 trains a day, chugging from remotest corners and smart solutions have to found within this frame. For punctuality, instead of the station master recording the time, data loggers have been put at interchange points which would be computer generated. A small step, but it brought accuracy and reflected the truth. Between April 1, 2018 and today, it has improved it to 73-74%, he said.

Indian Railway is working on putting a GPS device on every locomotive so that every train can be tracked on mobile phones knowing exactly where they are. Electrification of Railways has been taken vigorously which will save $2 billion every year, Goyal said. Railways’ engineers have figured out a solution for diesel engines: the cost for overhauling the diesel engine, same or less will be spent on converting it into electric. So without spending a dollar, Railways can have a new engine. Efficient engines with cost efficiency as well, electric engines will have a huge impact on India’s carbon footprint, he added. A protectionist approach can’t be adopted because the country is not going to pay for inefficiency, Goyal said.

Once, Railways change over to smarter signalling, focus on removing permanent speed restrictions, getting 1,50,000 bridges audited and improved, there is immense potential in Railways, he said adding Indian Railways has also planned to make 6,000 Railway stations Wi-Fi enabled.

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