A “sharp increase” in freight traffic between FY22 and FY21 is indicative of “strong revival in the economic activity in the domestic economy” post Covid, while investments in modernisation continue, the Economic Survey said.

Some 2,359 Kisan Rails, introduced in FY21 for movement of perishables, have transported 7.91 lakh tonnes of fruits and vegetables till October 31.

Revenue-earning freight traffic for April–Nov period was 8.3 per cent higher y-o-y at 976.8 million tonnes (mt), against 901.7 mt in the year ago period.

Passenger traffic earnings are yet to recover to pre-Covid levels, the Survey said adding that in the current financial year, originating passenger traffic stood at 418.4 crore (up to November 2022).

Passenger traffic originating in Indian Railways was at 809 crore during pre-Covid-19 period (2019-20), but dipped to 125 crore in FY21, and recovered to 351.9 crore in FY22.

“Enhanced mobility across the country and demand for faster and competitive trains will assist the growth in passenger traffic in the coming years.... freight traffic was sustained by IR despite the Covid shock,” the Survey said.

Capital expenditure stood at ₹245,800 crore in FY23, up 29 per cent y-o-y. Capex in the year-ago-period stood at ₹190,267 crore. Capex categories include line doubling, rolling stock investment, railway electrification, track renewals, rail over bridge and rail under bridge, bridge works and so on.

“Further, during the last eight years (2014-22), 30,446 route kilometres have been electrified, compared to an electrification of 4,698 route kilometres during the previous eight-year period, a more than six-fold increase,” the Survey added.

Modernisation plans

Some of the major projects currently underway include the Mumbai–Ahmedabad High Speed Rail (MAHSR), whose technical and financial cooperation from the Japanese government is “under execution” while the Survey and design aspects have been finalise.

The Dedicated Freight Corridor projects – construction of Eastern and Western Freight corridors along the golden quadrilateral – is underway and it is expected to lead to “reduced transit time and (logistics) cost”.

Some 21-odd GatiShakti Multi Modial Cargo Terminals have been commissioned and more than 90 more locations have been “provisionally identified”, the Survey said.

Semi-high speed Vande Bharat trains have been inducted while electrical interlocking systems have been provided across 6322 stations covering 99 per cent of the stations.

The Survey added that Indian Railways plans to “develop” a demonstrative project using the Hyperloop technology – where trains run in a levitating state by use of linear induction motors and electromagnets in a vacuum environment. Collaboration has been entered into with IIT – Madras to develop a Centre of Excellence.