Imagine seeing over 20 million passengers travel everyday by rail or can you fathom the thought of 7.6 billion passengers in a year? This almost unbelievable number of rail passengers is a common site in India where the entire country’s population is growing beyond 1.27 billion! As the population continues to grow, it is no doubt that they rely on rail systems for transportation – whether it is passenger rail or 921 million tonnes of freight annually according to the governmental Ministry of Railways.
The rail network consists of 40,050 miles of track that covers the country in all directions but with the rising population and increasing ridership, India’s rail infrastructure and transportation system is showing signs of exhaustion & inefficiency. With that being said, India has set plans to spend $137 billion over the next five years to upgrade, modernize and expand its rail infrastructure according to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal. In order for the rail system to improve, the following five steps need to be executed to effectively upgrade the railroad.
Step 1: Identify
In the beginning process of the railroad improvement, the Ministry of Railways will need to identify the sections of the rail system that call for immediate refurbishment. This identification process will involve a team of experts with industry experience that can inspect the system as a whole and evaluate the physical locomotives in use. Once parts of the rail system are labeled as the most urgent to upgrade, the next step can be initiated.
Step 2: Strategizing
This portion of the project will consist of engineers that can strategize an effective plan to put in motion that will consist of solutions for the railway problems. Since a number of concepts will be involved in this step, engineers and planners will have to take many things into account like track manufacturing, power lines, zoning issues and potential disruptions that could slow construction. After everything is taken into consideration, the solutions will be presented that outline what will be upgraded and which things must be decommissioned.
Step 3: Decommissioning
As with any kind of improvement project, old and existing structures must be removed to make way for the new system. This is when the decommissioning process occurs – the contracted engineering team starts the removal process of inefficient tracks, locomotives and other systems.
Step 4: Constructing The New Infrastructure
As this step indicates, the construction and building process of the new infrastructure begins! During this time, new track are laid out, passenger & freight trains are built and the rest of the commissioning process continues on until completion.
Step 5: Operations
Once the new rail infrastructure is in place, the rail system can begin operations for passengers and freight. However, this does not end the life cycle of the project because upgrades to the other sections of the system can begin. Additionally, ongoing maintenance and asset management is needed to ensure optimal performance for years to come.