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OJAANK IAS ACADEMY

PM Gati Shakti National Master Plan

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The PM Gati Shakti National Master Plan to States has been quadrupled from 5,000 to 10,000 crores in the Union Budget 2023, and an investment of 2.4 lakh crores has been proposed for the Indian Railways. A “transformative strategy for economic growth and sustainable development depends on the engines of roads, railroads, airports, ports, public transit, waterways and logistics infrastructure,” according to the plan. With their extensive network across India, the railways provide a cost-effective and efficient method of moving supplies, and they may be a key component of a coordinated and integrated logistics system.

The aim set by PM Gati Shakti to overcome the infrastructure issues that have impeded the transportation of freight by rail is to increase the railroads’ share of freight movement from 27% to 45% and to increase freight movement from 1.2 billion tonnes to 3.3 billion tonnes by 2030.

65% of freight is being moved by road, which significantly tilts the mix of modes in terms of freight transportation in that direction. The upshot is more traffic on the roadways, which causes severe congestion, more pollution, and rising logistical costs.To strengthen India’s logistics competitiveness, the railroads must be used more often as a means of moving freight. Comparing the prices of various modes of transportation reveals that the cost of moving freight by road is roughly twice as expensive as that by rail. Yet since road travel is more convenient than it is expensive, India’s railroads have been losing out on freight to other, more adaptable forms of transportation.

Coal accounted for 44% of the 1.2 billion tonnes of freight that was moved in 2020ยญยญ21, followed by iron ore (13%), cement (10%, food grains (5%), fertilisers (4%), iron and steel (4%), etc. Non-bulk commodity transportation makes up a relatively minor portion of rail freight transit.Since 2008, there has been a growth in containerized traffic, which will reach 16.2 million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) in 2020 from 7.6 million TEUs in 2008 due to the convenience of carrying non-bulk goods in containers. A measure of freight capacity is the TEU. Worldwide, railway systems are making significant investments in cutting-edge rail infrastructure to facilitate speedy and affordable container transit. For instance, China has designated rail lines for moving container traffic, double-decker container carriages are planned, and special trains are used to transport containers that connect important ports to the interior.The objectives for rail freight flow may be achieved while the Indian Railways are updating its infrastructure (PM Gati Shakti National Master Plan). This can be done by continuously assessing ongoing projects and identifying new priority locations. They are now far lower than those of other nations like the United States and China.

The national transporter suffers several operational, connectivity, and infrastructure difficulties, which has caused a shift in freight traffic to highways. Rail freight transportation is hampered by the lengthened transit times as well as pre- and post-movement delays caused by activities such waggon positioning, loading and unloading, multimodal handling, etc. Customers encounter a variety of infrastructure issues, including the lack of essential terminal infrastructure, the upkeep of suitable sheds and warehouses, and the unpredictability of the supply of waggons.As a result, there is significant network congestion, a decline in service quality, and longer transit times. Lack of integrated first- and last-mile rail connectivity raises the risk of damage from multiple handling while also raising the cost of inventory storage.

The forthcoming Dedicated Freight Corridors and multimodal logistics parks along India’s eastern and western corridors would reduce the overstretched line capacity restrictions and enhance train scheduling. In order to effectively deploy resources, the Indian Railways must upgrade the infrastructure that is supported by proper policy instruments and promote private engagement in the administration and operation of terminals, containers, and warehouses.

The issue of the first and last mile will be addressed by creating a new body under the railroads to manage intermodal logistics in collaboration with the private sector. The organisation might serve as a one-stop shop for consumers to transport freight and make payments.Every passenger train has two freight waggons. According to industry recommendations, boosting the use of one of the two freight waggons by implementing an Uber-like model where customers may reserve the waggon via an online application. Until the viability of the suggested approach is shown, the Indian Railways may continue to run the other waggon as it already is. Without further infrastructure spending, this may immediately increase freight traffic.

To make rail transportation competitive with roadways and to make it easier to export goods by train to nearby nations like Bangladesh and Nepal, there has to be an integrated logistics infrastructure with first- and last-mile connections.


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