Sam Pitroda Committee on modernization of Indian Railways

Sam Pitroda used to be the advisor of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The ‘Committee on modernization of Indian Railways’ headed by Sam Pitroda had unveiled an ambitious Rs. 8.39 lakh crore modernisation roadmap for Indian railways to be carried out in ‘mission mode’ in next five years. This biblical report touched almost every area of operation and management of Indian Railways and came up with five strategic planks viz. modernisation of core assets; exploration of new revenue models; review and assessment of capital projects sanctioned and work-in-process; focus on enablers and mobilisation of resources.

Based on this five-pronged strategy “15 focus areas” were identified and selected for attention.

The Pitroda Committee strongly recommended the “mission mode” approach for all these 15 focus areas with clear objectives, measurable milestones, tangible deliveries and well-defined timelines.

Some of the parts and parcels of the report focussed on the below measures:

  • Modernisation of 19,000 km of existing tracks
  • Strengthening of 11,250 bridges to sustain higher load at higher speed
  • Eliminating all level crossings
  • Implementation of automatic block signalling on major routes; A centralized train monitoring system right from Rail Bhawan.
  • Deployment of on board train protection system with cab signalling on all other routes.
  • GSM-based mobile train control communication system; Stress on complete upgradation of railway’s communication system
  • New generation locomotives
  • Train sets for high speed inter-city travel
  • Heavy haul freight bogies
  • Green toilets on all passenger trains
  • Modernisation of 100 major stations
  • Development of 34 multi modal logistics
  • Real time information system and internet facility at 342 railway stations
  • Development of public private partnership (PPP) models and policies in various areas of railways to attract private investment to augment core capabilities such as stations and terminals
  • High speed railway lines
  • Elevated rail corridor
  • Private freight terminals
  • Leasing of wagons, loco and coach manufacturing, captive power generation and renewable energy projects.
  • Construction of North-South, East-West, East-Coast and Southern Dedicated Freight Corridors covering 6,200 km in next ten years.
  • Commercialization of surplus land to generate additional revenue for railways.
  • Implementing the track occupancy and mobile train radio communication (MTRC) for seamless communication
  • Substantial hike in Gross Budgetary Support to sustain the modernization drive.
  • Railways should venture into captive power generation through the PPP route
  • Effectively commercialize land and air space to mobilize Rs 50,000 crore.

The Pitroda panel had also recommended construction of a high speed railway line between Ahmedabad and Mumbai with Speed of 300 kmph. It wanted to reshuffle the Railway Board and its head to work as Chief Executive Officer. It also wanted to give authorization to Zonal railways to take investment decisions along with accountability for return on capital, transport output, safety, and profitability.

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