#ThatWas2018: A year of 'firsts' for Indian Railways; highlights here
With year coming to an end, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal had described the Indian Railways' year as being one of 'many firsts'. Indeed, the Railways has had quite a year, marked both by tragedy, and by unprecedented accomplishments. One the whole, it was a good year for the Railways. Now that 2018 is almost over, here is a look at the highlights.
Train 18 marked a significant technological jump for the Railways
On the technological front, the Railways had a great year, considering the success of the engine-less Train 18 - India's fastest indigenously built train. Equipped with a host of modern facilities, Train 18 is not just fast and comfortable, it's also more power efficient. Built a cost of Rs. 100cr per rake, Train 18 will debut in January, and eventually replace Shatabdi trains.
The Railways is going green using indigenous technology
Train 18 apart, the Railways also made another noteworthy jump on the technology front. March 2018 saw the Railways create history - using indigenous technology, the Railways successfully managed to convert a diesel locomotive into an electric one. In doing so, it also boosted the locomotive's horsepower from 2,600HP to 5,000HP. Reportedly, a 12,000HP electric locomotive has also been commissioned. Greener rail transport seems to be on the cards.
The Bogibeel bridge is another success under the Railways' belt
Meanwhile, on the infrastructural front, too, the Railways had good success. Just days earlier, PM Modi inaugurated the long-delayed Bogibeel bridge in Assam - India's longest rail-cum-road bridge. A couple of months prior to its inauguration, the Railways conducted the first trial train journey on the bridge in October. Now that it's open, the 4.94km-long Bogibeel bridge is expected to boost transport, improve defense logistics, and promote economic growth.
The Railways also opened India's first transport university
Another 'first' for the Railways was the setting up of the first transport university in India, and third such university in the world. Earlier this year, the Railways opened the gates of the newly-founded National Rail and Transportation University (NRTU) in Vadodara with the aim of producing skilled and talented candidates for the Railways. In September, the university enrolled its first students.
The Railways recorded its lowest accident figures in three decades
Safety has never been the hallmark of the Indian Railways, and 2018 was mixed year, marked by events like the Amritsar train tragedy. That said, the Railways recorded its lowest-ever accident figures in the last three decades in the April-December stretch which saw just 45 accidents. Additionally, the Railways has undertaken a slew of measures for improved safety, including AI-powered robots, which could all start bearing fruit next year.
Other noteworthy achievements of the Railways
Other notable achievements of the Indian Railways in 2018 include bringing air-conditioned (AC) local trains into regular service in Mumbai. Further, the Railways launched dedicated apps for almost every facet of its business, from ticketing to food menus, and also set up much more robust grievance addressal systems. It also filled 1.3 lakh vacancies to improve safety and services.
The Railways should end 2018 on a celebratory note
While the otherwise illustrious year for the Railways was marred by the Amritsar train tragedy, the Railways managed to progress considerably on most fronts in 2018. Additionally, with many other schemes coming up in 2019, including the building of walls to prevent the repeat of an Amritsar-esque tragedy, the Railways will look to end its year on a celebratory note.