Recovery post covid railways
This year has been an “Year of Grit and Victories” for Indian Railways. Faced with daunting and unprecedented Covid related challenges, under the guidance and vision of PM, Indian Railways has not only been able to keep national supply chain running and move millions of people back home in most adverse circumstances but has also been able usher in an unprecedented growth in development of infrastructure , innovation, capacity expansion of network, freight diversification and transparency matters. Railways has used covid challenge as an opportunity to lay the foundation for future development and next level of traveling experience for passengers.
In line with the Hon’ble Prime Minister’s mantra “Reform, Perform & Transform”, and his advice that “It is better to set a stiff target and seek to achieve it rather than drifting forward without aim”, Ministry of Railways has worked towards ushering in transformational changes across in all the area of its operations and management .Major reforms were carried out during the period are described below.
National Rail Plan : To cater to the traffic requirements upto 2050 :laying the foundation for future
A National Rail Plan (NRP) 2030 has been developed with a view to develop infrastructure by 2030 to cater to the traffic requirements upto 2050. Based on the NRP, a Vision 2024 document has been prepared to develop infrastructure by 2024 to enhance modal share of Railways in freight transportation to more than 40 per cent and to cater to the traffic requirements upto 2030. Vision 2024 document lists all priority projects with target dates of completion and allocation of resources. Multi tracking of 14,000 Km route, electrification of entire Railway network, upgrading the speed potential of important routes to 130 KMPH and 160 KMPH (present speed potential 110 KMPH), completion of important coal connectivity and port connectivity projects have been planned as part of Vision 2024. An innovative financing has been devised to fund these priority projects. Indian Railway Finance Corporation (IRFC) is mobilizing resources with sufficient moratorium period and projects are being targeted to be completed well before expiry of moratorium period. These priority projects are being planned in such a way that they will provide enough return to service the debt. The draft plan has been put in public domain and is now being circulated amongst various Ministates for comments . MOR aims to finalize the plan at the earliest.
Process reforms to improve project execution and Organizational efficiency
In the past, Railway projects were suffering from huge time and cost overrun on account of thin spread of resources over a large number of projects and execution of projects prior to completion of prerequisite activities like land acquisition and other clearances. The capital expenditure in Railways has been vastly scaled up after 2014 (almost double the previous level) to address the accumulated backlog of infrastructure deficiency in the Railways. Along with stepped up fund allocation, super–critical (58) and critical projects (68) have been identified and prioritized. Altogether, 146 projects have been identified as crucial from the point of view of freight traffic and these have been provided with prioritized fund allocation for time-bound completion, after root cause analysis. The decision-making process for appraisal and approval of projects and sanction of estimates have been streamlined. It has also been decided to focus on those projects, which are required for improving operational efficiency, enhancing network capacity and where all clearances including land and environmental clearances etc. are available
A standardized EPC document has been adopted. General Conditions of Contract have been revised and updated to make them more workable in the field. Bonus clause for early completion, measures to improve cash flows and recognition of credentials issued by big companies and non-insistence of credentials for smaller works have been embodied in the revised conditions of contract. To help the General Managers and other field officers to speed up decision making sweeping delegation of powers has been made to General Managers, Divisional Railway Managers and other Field Units through model Schedule of Powers.
These measures along with introduction of E-work contract management system, E-Shramik Kalyan Portal and a single Central Payment System (in collaboration with State Bank of India) have vastly improved transparency in decision making. This has resulted in accelerated the pace of project execution (as measured in terms of commissioning of broad gauge lines or electrified kilometers per annum).
Planned Infrastructure Development and funding requirements has been accessed for loading target of 2024 MT by the year 2024. The targeted planned expenditure in the identified works for above vision is approximately Rs 2.5 Lakh Cr.
Running of SHRAMIK Special : Trains of Hope in Adversity
The COVID-19 pandemic and related lockdown had put both their lives and livelihoods of millions of migrants on hold. A great many number of them urgently wanted to get back to their homes and villages
Taking notice of this need, the Ministry of Home Affairs ordered the Ministry of Railways to arrange an emergency unique train service in coordination with individual state governments. The first Shramik Special train was flagged off on 1 May 2020.
With maximum trains to Uttar Pradesh (1,726) and Bihar (1,627), Shramik Express carried 63.15 lac passengers to 23 states through 4621 trips between 1 May and 31 August 2020, in response to the state governments’ requests.
The Railways faced several challenges during the Shramik Special operation. Still, the biggest challenge was ensuring that 63.15 lac passengers traveling through some of the country’s hottest regions during peak summer months had adequate food and water. For example, Danapur Railway Station provided a total of 22.79 lakh food packets, and 28.75 lakh water bottles were provided to people traveling on 1773 trains. Similarly, Western Railways distributed about 1.2 crore meals and 1.5 crore water bottles with IRCTC’s assistance.
Covid challenge as an opportunity to complete critical infrastructural and maintenance projects
During the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown period, Indian Railway men rose to the challenge and once again demonstrated that they can perform under adverse and crisis situations. Indian Railway took advantage of the opportunity of availability of traffic blocks due to reduced train operations during lockdown period and completed over 350 critical and long pending major bridge & track works. These works had a significant bearing on safety and operational efficiency. Some of these works were pending for several years as sufficient traffic blocks could not be made available under normal working conditions due to high density of traffic.
Progress of National Connectivity:
● Jammu & Kashmir:
○ Udhampur- Srinagar- Baramulla Rail Link (USBRL) Project by December 2022
○ Length: 272 Km; Commissioned – 161 Km, (Katra Banihal Section left)
● North East India:
○ All north-eastern State capitals (except Shillong) by March 2023
○ 112 Km long Agartala –Sabroom rail line in Tripura completed
○ 45 Km long doubling project from Lumbding to Hojai completed
○ Modern Pamban Bridge by October 2021
● Statue of Unity:
○ Dabhoi – Kevadiya Project Completed : Operation to start in January 2021
○ Rishikesh – Karnaprayag Rail Link (125 km) by December 2024
○ DPR for Chardham Connectivity Ready
Speeding Electrification of Railways and Mission Greening
Electrification has been accorded high priority as a part of the national goal to transform India into a green nation. 66% of track length has been electrified by November 2020. Railways aim to complete electrification of its entire broad-gauge network by 2023
The speed of electrification has been greatly scaled up from a level of 1176 KM in 2014-15 to 5276 in 2018-19 and 4378 KM in 2019-20 despite the setback due to COVID (in fact Cumulative 1,682 RKMs have been electrified till Nov’20 ). Once completed, IR will achieve a unique feat among the major railways in the world to run trains fully with indigenously produced power without dependence on imported fossil fuel. After 100% electrification, estimated saving on fuel/energy bill for IR would be about Rs.14,500 Cr per annum.
Indian Railways have fixed itself a stiff target of being a net-zero emitter of carbon by 2030 .This includes an ambitious target for complete electrification of IR network by 2023 and an equally ambitious target for generation of renewable energy using Railway’s assets.
This year Indian Railways started its pilot 1.5 MW solar energy plant with an aim to power its energy needs. This is part of an ambitiousprogramme is to generate 20 GigaWatt of solar power by 2030 using the sparable railway land. Besides generating renewable energy the programme would also provide free-of-cost fencing along the railway track thereby protecting the railway property from encroachment.
The steps taken towards Swachch Rail Swachch Bharat & Green Railways are:
100 % Coaches Fitted with Bio toilets
Integrated Mechanized Cleaning now provided at 953 Stations
57 Made in India , 12000 HP electric locomotives delivered
Commissioned 105.7 MW power solar plants over rooftops 960 major Railway Buildings
103.4 MW Wind Power Commissioned
Pilot phase for feeding solar power to traction power commissioned
Tender Process initiated for 1.6 GW
30 GW by 2030
Freight – Moving India’s Economy
● Railways has embraced a “Freight on Priority” policy by pushing for an aggressive customer-centric approach to expand the freight carried not only from the traditional segments but also by attracting new customers to its fold.
● Business Development Units (BDUs) have been set up at Railway Board, Zonal Railway and Divisional levels. Multi-disciplinary teams from BDUs have been reaching out to customers to attract new business by providing compelling value-for-money logistics solutions. The BDUs have scored several early successes by attracting new business from customers who had never used rail in the past.
● Time-tabled parcel services have been launched to provide reliable services to courier services, e-commerce companies.
● 8 Kisan Rail Services have been started to enable our farmers to send their produce across the nation with enhanced speed & reduced cost
● Doubling the speed of freight trains: Speed of freight trains has nearly doubled from a level of 24 Kmph one year ago to 46 Kmph which means half the time taken for sending products.
● A large number of freight incentive schemes have been launched and non-tariff liberalization measures have been undertaken to improve the customers’ experience with the Railways. Recently Rialways launched a path breaking “ Premium Indenting “ scheme as well to those clients who want to prioritize their deliveries .
● The real reform in the freight rail is not the early success in incremental freight loading but the culture of continuous engagement with the customers at every level including at the level of Railway Board and Minister of Railways.The objective is to deeply embed this culture across the Railway Organisation so that winning customer loyalty becomes a habit.
● With all these initiatives Railway’s freight has staged a remarkable recovery in the month of November 2020 by registering a record loading of 109.68 Million Tonnes (MT), which is 9% higher compared to last year’s loading for the same period. The momentum in freight loading continues.
Dedicated Freight Corridor getting completed at unprecedented speed
Dedicated Freight Corridors are getting completed at unprecedented speed will change the way fright operations work in India . It is going to not only bring the costs of freight operation down but also ensure digitally tracked bigger and faster.
In the first phase, DFFCIL is constructing the Western DFC (1504 Route km) and Eastern DFC (1856 route km including PPP section of Sonnagar-Dankuni Section. The EDFC starting from Sahnewal near Ludhiana (Punjab) will pass through the states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand to terminate at Dankuni in West Bengal. The Western Corridor connecting Dadri in Uttar Pradesh to Jawaharlal Nehru Port (JNPT) in Mumbai will traverse through the states of UP, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra of WDFC & EDFC (excluding the Sonnagar – Dankuni PPP section).
Dedicated Freight Corridors are expected to: Decongest the existing Indian Railway network, Increase the average speed of goods trains from existing 25 to 70 kmph., Run Heavy Haul trains (higher axle load of 25/32.5 Tonne) & overall load of 13,000 Tonne, Facilitate the running of longer (1.5km) and double stack container trains,Connect the existing ports and industrial areas for faster movement of goods, Energy efficient and environment friendly rail transport system as per global standards, Increase the rail share from existing 30% to 45% and reduce the logistic cost of transportation.
Raising Sectional Speed:
New Delhi – Mumbai & New Delhi – Howrah Routes (160 kmph)
● Raising to 160 kmph approved by Cabinet in August 2019
● Planning completed
● Work of deep screening, thick web switches, realignment of curves in progress
● Tender invited for solar panel fencing
● Indigenous TCAS Signalling & 2X25 kV Traction system
● Result in safety, higher speed and additional line capacity
● Will be completed by December 2023
Golden quadrilateral(GQ) / Golden diagonal(GD) Routes (130 Kmph)
● New Delhi – Mumbai and New Delhi – Howrah already upgraded
● Balance routes will be upgraded by July 2021
● Planning completed and work for track and signalling in advanced stage
New Services in Passenger Operations With PPP in Train Operations
• Railways is now undertaking a partnership approach for passenger train operations. To enhance overall service quality and operational efficiency, IR is now pro-actively engaging with stakeholders and initiating dialogue with private players. This aims at improving the passenger experience and bringing modern technologies and private investments.
• In the first phase, it is planned to introduce 151 modern passenger trains operated through PPP over 109 Origin Destination (OD) pairs of routes. This will bring private sector investment of Rs. 30,000 crore. Applications from interested parties have been received and Request for Proposals (RFP) have been issued to Shortlisted applicants in November 2020.
Railways’ Special Initiatives during COVID -19
• During the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown period, Indian Railway men rose to the challenge and once again demonstrated that they can perform under adverse and crisis situations. In addition to undertaking uninterrupted 24X7 Freight Trains Operations to ensure availability of essential commodities, medicines, equipment and supplies through the country, and launching several new initiatives like running of Time Tabled Parcel Trains and Kisan Rail, doubling of speeds of freight trains from 24 kmph last year to 46 kmph, Indian Railway employees also took advantage of the opportunity of availability of traffic blocks due to reduced train operations during lockdown period and completed over 350 critical and long pending major bridge & track works. These works had a significant bearing on safety and operational efficiency. Some of these works were pending for several years as sufficient traffic blocks could not be made available under normal working conditions due to high density of traffic.
Safety Reigns Supreme :
For the first time, ever since April 2019, there has been no passenger fatality in train accidents.
Safety of the passengers and safe upkeep of railways assets is the topmost priority of IR. With the constant focus on safety consequential train accidents have progressively reduced to an all-time low of 55 in 2019-20. For the first time, ever since April 2019, there has been no passenger fatality in train accidents.
This has been achieved through various safety measures undertaken in Mission mode including the following:
● Accidents progressively reduced from 107 in 2015-16 to 55 in 2019-20, (12 upto December 2020)
● All Unmanned Level Crossings eliminated on Broad Gauge in Jan 2019
○ 3,479 in 2018-19 compared to 1,565 in 2017-18 (+122%)
● Accelerated elimination of Manned Level Crossing Gates
○ 1,274 in 2019-20 compared to 631 in 2018-19 (+102%)
● 1,367 bridges rehabilitated in FY 2019-20 compared to 1000 in 2018-19 (+37%)
● Track Renewal Arrears drastically reduced
● Production of ICF Coaches stopped from Jan 2018 -> safer LHB Coaches
● Accelerated replacement of Old Mechanical Signalling with Electronic Signalling
In a visionary plan, to further enhance safety of train operations it is planned :
● Elimination of Manned Level Crossings
● Indigenous Train Collision Avoidance System [TCAS]
● Mechanised Maintenance and Inspection for Tracks & Bridges
● Upgradation of Tracks & Bridges
● Replace of ICF Coaches with safer and comfortable Tejas type LHB and Train sets
● Elimination of Mechanical Signalling
Simulator based Training of Locomotive Pilots
Station Development & Modernization
Work of development of stations at Gandhinagar, Habibganj and Ayodhyahas been fast tracked. Railways is taking a partnership approach for station development and Request for Qualification (RFQs) have been invited for New Delhi, ChhatrapatiShivaji Mumbai Terminal, Nagpur, Gwalior, Sabarmati, Amritsar, Pudducherry, Nellore, Dehradun and Tirupati stations on Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode.
Safety Reigns Supreme:Elimination of Unmanned Level Crossings (UMLCs) & Zero Passenger Fatalities
Safety of the passengers and safe upkeep of railways assets is the topmost priority of IR. For the first time, ever since April 2019, there has been no passenger fatality in train accidents.
This has been achieved through various safety measures undertaken in Mission mode including the following:
Elimination of Unmanned Level Crossings (UMLC) on Broad Gauge network
Creation of Rashtriya Rail SanrakshanKosh (RRSK)
Complete switch over to safe manufacturing of Link Hofmann Busch (LHB)coaches
Focus on wiping out track renewal arrears and rehabilitation of bridges
In a visionary plan, to further enhance safety of train operations it is planned to install indigenous Train Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) over Railways. System is already functional over 250 route km and will be proliferated over the entire network in a phased manner. The work is in progress over 1,200 route km.
One of the major areas which required attention to curb rail accidents was Unmanned Level Crossings. Unmanned Level Crossings were potential safety hazard both for Rail as well as road users more so for road users. It was decided by Minister of Railways to eliminate all UMLCs in a time bound manner. Ministry of Railways took the mission of elimination of Unmanned Level Crossings on war footing.
As on 01.04.2017, there were 4943 unmanned level crossings. It was decided to eliminate all UMLCs by March’ 2020 and accordingly commitment was also given in the Parliament.
For elimination of Unmanned Level Crossings following methods are being adopted:
(i) Low TVU
(ii) Merger with another LC by constructing diversion road
(iii) Construction of Subway/RUB
Year wise planning for elimination of 4943 UMLCs was as under:
Year Target for Elimination (Nos.)
By 2019, all UMLCs have been eliminated. Railways are now moving towards elimination of manned level crossings as well.
• “MeriSaheli” initiative taken for focused action on security of women travelling in trains
“Meri Saheli” initiative was first launched by RPF South Eastern Railway among all other Zonal Railways for security of woman passengers in trains. The initiative has reportedly been successful in instilling a sense of security among women travellers and has rendered help to them in several instances. The number of passenger trains is being increased in phases post lockdown. Since the footfall in stations and in trains is increasing gradually, it was needed to launch a focused initiative for safety and security of women passengers.
It was therefore decided to launch a modified “Meri Shaheli” initiative for focused action on security of women. The main objective is to provide an environment in which women feel safe, secure and comfortable all along their journey.
An initiative of RPF, the Strategy of the entails interaction with lady passengers especially those travelling alone by a team of young lady RPF personnel at the originating station. These lady passengers are briefed about all precautions to be taken during the journey and told to dial 182 in case they face or see any problem in the coach. The RPF team collects only the seat numbers of the ladies and conveys them to stoppages en-route. The platform duty RPF personnel at the stopping stations en-route keep unobtrusive watch over the concerned coaches and berths and if need arises, interact with the lady passengers. RPF/RPSF escort onboard also covers all the coaches/identified berths during its duty period.
RPF teams at the destination collect the feedback from the identified lady passengers. The feedback is then analysed and corrective action, if any, is taken. If some distress call comes from a train covered under “MeriSaheli” initiative, the disposal of the call is monitored at the level of senior officers.
The “MeriSaheli” initiative was started as a pilot project in South Eastern Railway in September 2020 and after getting encouraging response from lady passengers, it was extended to all zones and KRCL w.e.f. 17.10.2020.The operation is gathering momentum.
• Indian Railways launched “CORAS” – Commandos for Railway Security
Modernisation of Coaches and More Powerful Engines : India Produces the Most Powerful Railway Engine
Commercial Operation of WAG 12 Locomotive:- Railway Board has communicated the sanction of the prototype locomotive during lockdown on 28.04.2020 and the locomotive has travelled in 14th Zonal Railways and the fleet strength in 57 and has earned around 18.66 lakhs Kms and the prestigious Made in India project manufacturing 12000 hp being the HHP locomotives with highest speed of 120 Kmph
Atmanirbhar Bharat Campaign gets firm footing:Import has reduced to less than 1.6%
Indian Railways has progressed significantly on path of Aatmanirbhar Bharat significantly in 2020, with a number of policy reforms taken in 2020. IR is encouraging manufacturing and promotes production of goods and services in India, with Increase of local content through Partnerships, cooperation with local companies, establishing production units in India and Joint venture with Indian suppliers. Proactive Reciprocity principle in Make in India policy has been enabled. RDSO and production units have reviewed the vendor directories so as to minimise the control of vendors and to facilitate procurement through the process of competitive bidding on the basis of predefined eligibility criteria and specification for all items except for a few limited safety /critical items. With consistent efforts, import has reduced to less than 1.6% as compared to 5.6% in year 2013-14.Ongoing infrastructure and manufacturing projects of Railways are being undertaken through AatmaNirbhara Bharat campaign. Tender for indigenous manufacturing of Vande Bharat Trains has been floated. Also work on Dedicated Freight Corridor and Bullet train (Ahmedabad- Mumbai) is progressing swiftly. Emphasis is on procurement of indigenous material in all projects of Railways. Some of the key initiatives include initiation of process for procurement for 44 rakes of Vande Bharat Trains.and production of powerful 12000HP engines at Madhepura.
The steps taken to boost Aatma Nirbhar Bharat are:
● Import in procurement reduced from 5.6% in 2013-14 to 2.5% in 2018-19
● Make in India Policy: As per DPIIT orders on public procurement
○ More than 95% of Electric Locomotive components sourced indigenously
● Indigenous Train Collision Avoidance System (TCAS)
● Gearing up Exports : Banaras Locomotive Works (BLW) exported 7 Diesel Locomotives Sri Lankan Railways
● Increase in Electric Locomotive Production increased by 30 %
● LHB coaches production increased by 42 % .
● Axle capacity of Rail Wheel Factory (RWF) being enhanced
● Rail Ispat Nigam Ltd coming up at Rae Bareli for indigenous production of wheels
● Indigenous manufacturing of Track machines
○ Faridabad (Haryana), Karjan (Gujarat) and Bangalore (Karnataka)
More Amenities for Passengers at Stations
This year 32 Escalators & 66 Lifts have been provided over Bfar, 774 Escalators &642 lifts have been provided over IR.
893Railway stations are now provided with improved illumination levels similar to Airport Standards.
Better train information display coach guidance system is in place at 673 stations while train indication boardsare now commissioned at 1208 stations
500 Railway Stations certified for implementation of Environment Management System to ISO: 14001
96Foot Over Bridge(FOB) provided in FY 20-21 (till date)
5885 Stations provided with Wi-Fi
Artificial Intelligence based PNR confirmation predictor has been integrated with Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) website which predicts the probability of waitlisted ticket getting confirmed at the time of booking and eliminates last minute uncertainties faced by the rail passengers.
Real Time Train Information System (RTIS) in collaboration with ISRO for automatic chart preparation and passenger train information, fast tracked:
Unprecedented Transparency in all the facets of functioning through digital &e -governance
a. A Rail Drishti Portal has been launched as an information portal that brings key details from various sources on a single dashboard in order to promote transparency and accountability. Users can visit the portal for information related to passenger reservation, unreserved ticketing, freight earnings and freight loading. The portal offers access to PNR enquiry, complaint enquiry, tender enquiry, shramik enquiry and freight related enquiries. It also has a facility to track any train on the Indian Railways network and obtain the contact number of housekeeping staff on train. By providing access to every citizen of the country it has helped promote transparency in all facets of Railway working.
b. All tenders of Railways (works or stores) have been put on e-tendering platform. Electronic reverse auction option has been introduced in Stores tenders above Rs.5 crore and works and services tenders above Rs.50 crore.
c. RDSO has streamlined the Vendor Approval process, which has been made completely online. Also, Common Vendor Portal has been initiated, so that a vendor once approved for a Unit, automatically gets approved for other Units also. Proactive action is also being taken to reduce the number of items with less than 3 vendors. The number of items with less than 3 approved vendors has been reduced from 220in Jan’20 to 74 in Nov’20.
d. E-Office has been rolled out as a mission mode on IR and more than 1.23 Lakhs users are using this platform till now. more than 9.8 lakhs electronic files have been created including conversion of existing physical files into electronic and more than 42.45 lakh receipts have been made electronic.
e. Integration of IREPS with GeMis being undertaken with full flow and this will help to digitise all the process of procurement through GeM on IR.
f. Provision of CCTV at critical locations like STations (630), Train Coaches (2626), Hospitals (102), PRS Centres, Weighbridges and at major Offices are provided or being provided.
g. 2700 electric locomotives have been provided with RTIS and 3800 diesel locomotives provided with RAMLOT;
h. Automatic control charting being done for 6500 locomotives; balance 6000electric locomotives to be provided with RTIS equipment in an year’s time. Tender for balance in process.
Restructuring of Railway Board on functional lines and unification of 8 organized services into a single Indian Railway Management Services ( IRMS)
In a path-breaking reform, the size of the Railway Board has been reduced from Chairman and 8 Members representing each Organised Service at the Apex level to a Chairman and Chief Executive Officer and 4 Functional Members representing Finance, Operations & Business Development, Traction & Rolling Stock and Infrastructure functions. Instead of earmarking a post of Member to a particular service, posts of Members and Chairman are now open to all eligible officers. It has also been decided to unify the 8 Organised Group ‘A’ services into one service viz., Indian Railway Management Service (IRMS). The modalities for recruitment of officers into IRMS and merger of the existing officers into the new service are being worked out.
This radical reform aims at breaking down departmental silos and development of an overall perspective in all aspects of Railway working. Further, organizational restructuring is being implemented to remove interdepartmental conflict and make Railways agile. This is, therefore, one of most transformative reforms carried out in the history of Indian Railways. What is more significant, this has been recommended by a number of Committees in the past but was never attempted for fear of the complexity of managing the transition. This has been done now after broad-based consultation among officers to prepare them to transform Indian Railways into a truly world-class Organization.
Reforms in HR Management
Management System (HRMS) :- In 2020, the HRMS has been put into application and is being used extensively by Railway employees. As HRMS aims to bring all HR activities on a digital platform, it is a game changer in HR Management of Indian Railways and will lead to employee productivity and administrative efficiency simultaneously. In 2020, we have launched various modules of HRMS such as e-Pass, Office Order modules, Employee self-service, Executive record sheet for Officers, PF & Settlement, besides Employee Master and e-SR which were launched during late 2019.
a. IRFC and MOR have executed a facility agreement with Asian Development Bank (ADB) for loan facility denominated in INR equivalent to USD 750 Million (about Rs.5,267 crore) for Railway electrification projects.
b. IRFC constantly diversifies its borrowing portfolio to arrange funds for Indian Railways, at the most competitive rates and terms. IRFC upgraded its Euro Medium Term Note (EMTN) programme to Global Medium-Term Note (GMTN) Programme which facilitated its maiden issuance of bonds under 144A / Reg S route. The bonds under the GMTN Programme were issued in two tranches of USD 700 Million and USD 300 Million with tenor of 10 years and 30 years carrying coupon of 3.249% (Benchmark US Treasury plus 160 bps) and 3.95% (Benchmark US Treasury plus 184 bps) respectively. The coupon obtained by IRFC is the lowest amongst the issuances, during 2020. Besides, the 30-year issuance is the maiden issue by an Indian CPSE.
c. A Miscellaneous E-Receipts System (MERS) portal has been developed by CRIS to facilitate digital payments of inward receipts to Railways. The scheme has been rolled out on all Indian Railways and the operational guidelines have been issued in June,2020 . The portal is fully integrated with Land Assets Management System (LAMS) of the Engineering Department. This has enabled Railways to receive lease charges, way leave charges on a digital platform. Functionalities have also been developed in MERS to accept online payments from Railway customers for ‘Special COVID -19 Parcel Trains’ after approval from Commercial Authorities. This would be line with Government initiative of encouraging digital payments and would introduce faster and transparent accounting of receipts.
d. Implementation of E-PPO scheme: In order to curtail delays in physical transmission of Pension Payment Orders to the pension disbursing banks, a scheme of e-PPO has been put in place wherein the PPOs are being forwarded to the banks system through SFTP mode which obviates the delays in physical transit of the PPOs. A new version (revised methodology of digital signing) of E-PPO has been implemented on IPAS. As per new version of e-PPO, CRIS will push encrypted E-PPO File (Zipped) in respective Centralised Pension Processing Centres (CPPC) folders of the Bank’s server. Banks can act upon these E-PPOs without waiting for physical copies. This system ensures commencement of pension from next month of retirement.
Railways continues to work steadfastly to become the engine for the nation’s vikasyatra. Over the past 6 years, Railways has strived for modernisation of systems, processes and infrastructure. Railways is committed to become an efficient, self sustainable, cost effective, punctual and a modern carrier of passengers and freight services provider of highest standards in order to serve the growing needs of New India.