Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said on Wednesday that the average speed of passenger trains will be increased by 50 per cent and that of freight trains almost twice as part of Mission Raftaar by 2022. At present the average speed of passenger trains is 44 kmph and that of freight trains is 24 kmph.

A workshop on modalities of increasing the average speed of passenger and freight trains was conducted on Wednesday where 250 senior railway officials including general managers of all the zones participated.

The workshop was also attended by the Railway Minister and Chairman of Railway Board, Ashwani Lohani. The modalities discussed for increasing average speed included improving signaling, removing unmanned level crossings, adding rolling stock and more powerful locomotives among other things.

Lohani said the number of passenger trains has increased dramatically between 2006 and 2018 along with freight trains which has constrained the infrastructure. “The capacity addition was not done in tune with the increase of trains,” he said.

As part of the effort to increase the average speed, Railways is trying to eliminate all unmanned level crossings. Although some zones have no unmanned level crossings others have a lot of them. “Unmanned level crossings are there in large numbers in heavily populated areas. But we are going to remove all of them by this year,” said Member (Traffic), Railway Board, Mohammad Jamshed.

The initial emphasis of the railways will be on the Golden Quadrilateral which covers routes on Delhi-Mumbai, Delhi-Howrah, Howrah-Chennai, Chennai- Mumbai, Delhi-Chennai and Howrah-Mumbai sections. These routes, according to the Railways, carry approximately 58 per cent of freight traffic and 52 per cent of coaching traffic with a share of only 15 per cent of the network.