Cabinet gives nod to $320 billion rail expansion plan to boost connectivity and economic growth

The Union Cabinet Committee has given its approval to seven proposals put forth by the Ministry of Railways, marking a substantial leap towards India’s aspirations for improved infrastructure and connectivity. These initiatives, valued at an impressive $320 billion, are poised to significantly expand the country’s rail network to multiple regions including Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Odisha, Jharkhand, and West Bengal.

Collectively covering a distance of 2,339 km, these projects are projected to generate 70.6 million man-days of employment, fostering economic growth and livelihood opportunities across the targeted states. These corridors cater to a diverse range of transportation needs, encompassing essential commodities such as food grains, fertilizers, coal, cement, iron, and crude oil.

Notably, the strong emphasis on boosting freight revenues is expected to yield a substantial additional freight traffic of 200 million tonnes per annum (MTPA), contributing significantly to the nation’s economic progress.

A significant development within these initiatives involves the transformation of a considerable stretch initially designated for the Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) into regular mixed-use rail tracks. This aligns with the Prime Minister’s GatiShakti National Master Plan (NMP), which underscores the importance of integrated planning to ensure seamless movement of people, goods, and services.

While this transformation signifies a shift from exclusive freight corridors, Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw clarified that the objective is to optimize the entire transportation network, encompassing rail, road, and waterways, to cater to the evolving demands and needs of the nation. The primary goal is to bridge gaps and enhance connectivity in the most efficient manner possible.

The transformation of this freight corridor stretch holds considerable significance, as the national transport sector anticipates a notable increase in its national freight share, aiming to achieve a remarkable 40% solely through this particular stretch. The integration of various transportation modes, including road, rail, and waterways, underscores India’s unwavering commitment to constructing a comprehensive and robust transportation infrastructure that aligns with sustainable development and economic growth goals.