Press Information Bureau
Government of India
Ministry of Railways
13-January-2018 16:25 IST
National Rail Transport Seminar on the theme “Railways for Sustainable Development” held in New Delhi.

 The Centre for Transportation Research and Management (CTRAM), is an autonomous body of Transport Professionals in the country organized a National Rail Transport Seminar with the theme “Railways for Sustainable Development” in New Delhi today i.e. on 13th January, 2018. Minister of State in the Ministry of Railways & Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Communications, Shri Manoj Sinha, who could not attend due to some unavoidable reason in a message to the seminar said that “Sustainable development represents an extraordinary challenge and opportunity for Indian Railways, which is a key driver in the economic growth in India. While Indian railways contribute significantly towards sustainable development, it has to evolve and sharpen its strategy to become a flag bearer for such sustainable development. It is hoped that the seminar will throw new ideas and strategy for the benefit of Railway Sector”.

The key note address at the inaugural session of the seminar was given Shri Mohd Jamshed, Member Traffic, Railway Board and Ex-officio President, CTRAM. The welcome address was given by Shri R K Tandon, Executive Director & Secretary, CTRAM. The other speakers at the inaugural session included Shri Mangu Singh, MD, DMRC and Mr. Kenichi Yokoyama, Country Director, ADB.

In his key note address, Shri Mohd Jamshed, Member Traffic, Railway Board said that, “I firmly believe that the topic for discussion today :“ Railways for sustainable development” is of utmost relevance for an economy like India that is resolutely ascendant on a high growth trajectory. As this country changes gear, the developmental choices that are made at this stage will undoubtedly be crucial, for the long term sustainability of development itself.

Indian Railways (IR) is presently one of the world’s largest rail networks, spread over 66,000 route Kms.  As India’s “ engine of growth” which is how the hon’ble Prime Minister has fondly referred to it,  Indian Railways  today operates a staggering 20,000 plus  trains everyday to move, more than 3 million tonnes of freight traffic and more than 23 million passengers on a daily basis .

         Over the years, declining modal share of Railways has no doubt, been a cause of concern for the policy makers and this thinking gets lucidly articulated in the Budget speech in 2016:

         “The modal share of IR has been consistently declining over a long period of time. This trend has had a negative impact not only on the Railways but on the entire economy. We are determined to reverse this slide. There are three solution sets for this issue –expanding the freight basket of IR, rationalizing the tariff structure and building .. (capacity).

         History of Indian Railways would regard 2015-16 to 2017-18 as a watershed years when the task of modernizing and transforming Indian Railways joined integrally, the mainstream agenda of Government of India.  As the budget 2017-18 emphasized, “Railways, roads and rivers are the lifeline of our country. We are now in a position to synergize the investments in railways, roads, waterways and civil aviation”.

The merger of the Rail   Budget with General Budget in 2017-18 was in fact,  a part of the  larger transformation agenda of the government for Indian Railways.

To walk the talk in this direction, the government since 2014, has rolled out a comprehensive and multipronged transformational strategy for IR. To address the root problem of financial starvation, the strategy aims to resolutely deal with the vicious cycle of underinvestment, strained capacity and low investible surpluses through a sustained and substantial capex.

To make the Indian railways customer oriented and responsive to the needs of the economy, a number of  structural and policy reforms have been undertaken and to instill a culture of efficiency and cost consciousness in the organization,  a revamp of  its maintenance and accounting practices is underway.

         On the CAPEX front, the total capital and development expenditure of IR since 2014-15 has risen from Rs 54000 crore in 2014-15 to Rs 94,000 cr in 2015-16 and 1.11 Lakh crore in 2016-17 and is targeted at 1.31 lakh crore in 2017-18. This is slated for further increase in the coming years.   

         Besides an enhanced support from the Government, IR has invoked various innovative financing models & Extra Budgetary Resources such as  loan from LIC, PPP models and models based on cooperative federalism through joint ventures with state governments for mutually beneficial projects.

         With the above input it is expected that the issue of capacity constraints will be addressed satisfactorily to meet the transportation needs of the country in days to come.

A large number of initiatives have been taken in the passenger sector, including steps to enhance ease of ticketing especially with IT aids, promoting digital transactions, to  meet passenger demands by creation of more capacity , fresh customer specific train products (like Humsufar, Antyodaya etc ), Improvements in the quality of travel experience. IR has also increased its focus on Non- fare revenue generation through monetization of its vast fixed, movable and soft assets.

As a result of these initiatives, the decline in the number of passengers, a regular feature since 2012-13, has not only been arrested in 2016-17 but also reversed.  For the first time in last 5 years, the figures of 2017 -18 (April-Nov)  indicate a 0.7% percent increase in passengers carried, vis-à-vis last year and a 5.13 % increase in revenues. The reserved segment has witnessed a growth of 6.36 % during this period as compared to previous year.  

         Likewise, Freight sector reforms undertaken in the recent past after extensive ‘Samvaad’ with stakeholders have resulted in logistics costs of rail users getting lowered by 20-30%  from initiatives like  elimination of 10% port concession charge , elimination of the 15% Busy season surcharge for a significant period, reduction in documentation requirement and promotion of ease of doing business by elimination of the dual charging policy for export and domestic iron ore,  permitting 43 additional commodities for containerized movement at Lower (FAK )rates, opening more goodsheds ( category I and II goodsheds) to container traffic, facilitating reduced lot sizes (and lowered  inventory requirements/costs) for commodities like cement, salt ,foodgrain and  fertilizer transported in the  covered wagons of IR, etc. The policy of Long Term Contract with major freight customers has proved to be a game changer which offers freight incentives  on long term basis on incremental revenue. We have already signed 21 long term contracts within 6 months of launching the policy – a move towards building long term partnership.

         As a result of all initiatives taken, the revival in the freight traffic by IR, to retain and regain its market share is quite evident in the loading performance for first 9 months of current financial year. Indian Railways have loaded 39 MT more this year upto December in all commodities; a growth of around 4.5% almost 8 times of incremental loading against last year, including a massive growth in coal transportation.  Likewise loading in Raw material for Steel plants, Container sector and the segment called “ Other Goods” have also surpassed last years figures.

The recent decision by Hon’ble Minister of Railways & Coal, Shri Piyush Goyal for 100% electrification of Indian Railways in next 5 years would even further reduce carbon emissions from rail transport. Other areas where  we are doing our bit includes efforts in moving fast towards 100% LED fittings to reduce non traction energy requirement, installing upto 500 MW solar plants to reduce dependence of fossil fuels – on stations, hospitals , station buildings ( like Katra station), setting up wind power mills ( as in ICF Chennai), blending bio-diesel with HSD and exploring other alternate fuels like CNG, improving water use efficiency and rain water harvesting, planting trees along the railway track, constructing green buildings and so on.

So the good news seems to be - that despite the challenges and roadblocks Indian Railways have made the right course corrections and are definitely headed on the right path”.


The seminar consisted of 4 sessions namely:- Inaugural Session, Technical Session on International Perspective, Technical Session on National Perspective & Technical Session on Sustainability & Railways-Horizon and Perspective.

The other notable speakers at the seminar included Ms Martha Lawrence, Senior Railway Specialist, World Bank, Mr. Michael Williamson, Head of Office, Sub-regional Office for South & South-West Asia, UN-ESCAP.

The highlight of the seminar was that Young Indian Railway Traffic Service (IRTS) Officers (Probationers) of 2015 Batch made 5 different presentations at the seminar.

The seminar was attended by Senior Railway Officials, Retired Railway Officials, Transport Professionals & Experts, Industry Representatives, and Academicians.

The Centre for Transportation Research and Management (CTRAM) is an autonomous body of Transport Professionals. It was registered as a “Society” in December 1998. CTRAM works under a Governing Council comprising of Senior Transport Professionals and is headed by Member/Traffic, Railway Board, as its ex-officio President. One of the key objectives of CTRAM has been to bring Industry, Government Agencies and Transport Professionals together for bringing improvements in infrastructure, systems and procedures. CTRAM provides a forum for cross-sectoral, cross-functional dialogue between policy makers, Industry and Transportation Professionals and Academician on issues relating to emerging needs for the fast growing economy.