It is the first time that International Railway Summit takes place in India.
There are many reasons for that.
Asia’s first rail operation began in 1853 between Bombay and Thane.
Today, India’s rail transport has grown to a route length of 68,442 km, the fourth biggest network in the world, and transports 8.3 billon passengers and 1.2 billon tonnes of freight annually (Indian Railways YearBook 2017-18).
And India is a major actor in the global future of railways.
The first Indian high-speed rail line between Mumbai and Ahmedabad is now under construction, with eight other HSR corridors approved.
11 cities have inaugurated metro sytems in the last six years, with new metros under construction or being planned in 13 further cities.
The government’s vast Dedicated Freight Corridor project is well underway, with six corridors totalling 9,958 km, aiming to shift freight traffic from road to rail.
Rail electrification will also help India meet its UN climate change pledge. Between 2014 and March 2019, 13,700 km of the network was electrified so 52% of the network now runs on electricity. The government plans to electrify the rest of the broad-gauge network by 2022, meaning 28,000 km will be electrified in the next three years, which will reduce CO2 emissions by 3.4 million tonnes per annum (Ghanshyam Singh and Bhupender Singh Bodh, ‘Towards a greener future’, Railway Gazette, May 2019).
Over the next few decades, the global population is expected to grow by 2 billion to almost 10 billion by 2050, according to the United Nations’ World Populations Prospects 2019 report. Up to 14% of this increase is expected in India (273 million).
Thus, Indian Railways will have to face many challenges at the same time, to invent innovative solutions, and to enter a new era of rail globalisation.
That is the reason why this International Railway Summit held in New Delhi, on the theme ‘How can rail transport best keep pace with rapid population growth?’
François Davenne sent a video message to the audience.
EU Commissioner Violeta Bulc delivered a keynote speech, aligned with UIC position, and entitled ‘Rail as the backbone of an integrated multimodal transport system’
She also promoted global standards for the sake of the railway sector.
Another exceptional keynote speaker, Mr Vinod Kumar Yadav, the Chairman of the Railway Board at the Ministry of Railways in India, delivered a comprehensive overview of the future Indian Railways projects.
Other panels were held over two days:
- What will the next generation of transport planning look like?
- Is high-speed worth it?
- Human, organisational and technical factors in railway safety management
- How can we best manage the growing pressure on capacity?
- Can we improve experience and increase capacity at the same time?
- Attracting public and private investment: how do we devise a win-win strategy?