Verkko Global

reimagining Indian railways


My association with Indian Railways (IR) commenced on 10th April 1983 upon boarding an express train to Howrah from Delhi, on the way to Garden Reach headquarters of South Eastern Railway to report as a probationary office. Little did I realise at that point, that this Rail journey would lead to a 38+ years-long bond With INDIAN RAILWAYS in particular and with Railways in general. This association took me across geographies and roles in multiple verticals with Railways becoming my alter ego. IR during the period brought about improvements in the rolling stock besides expanding and electrifying the network and unigauging it to BG with electronic signalling in place of a mechanical one.

Indian Railways, often dubbed as the lifeline of the nation, has played a pivotal role in shaping India’s socio-economic landscape since its inception. As we look ahead to the year 2050, envisioning the future of Indian Railways requires a comprehensive strategy that integrates technological advancements, sustainability measures, and enhanced passenger experience. This blog outlines a visionary roadmap for Indian Railways in 2050, focusing on innovation, efficiency, and inclusivity.

Technological advancements

By 2050, Indian Railways will have undergone a profound technological transformation, leveraging cutting-edge innovations to enhance its operational efficiency and safety standards. The implementation of high-speed rail networks, magnetic levitation (Maglev) trains, and hyperloop technology will revolutionize long distance travel, reducing travel times and enhancing connectivity between major cities. Additionally, the widespread adoption of artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), and blockchain technology will optimize railway operations, predictive maintenance, and passenger safety measures.

Sustainability measures

In line with global efforts to combat climate change, Indian Railways in 2050 will prioritize sustainability measures to minimize its environmental footprint. The integration of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power will reduce dependency on fossil fuels, leading to a significant reduction in carbon emissions. Furthermore, the introduction of eco-friendly train designs, including energy-efficient locomotives and lightweight materials, will contribute to a greener and more sustainable rail network. Additionally, initiatives to promote eco-friendly practices among passengers, such as waste recycling and water conservation, will further enhance the environmental sustainability of Indian Railways.

Enhanced passenger experience

By 2050, Indian Railways will offer an unparalleled passenger experience, characterized by comfort, convenience, and seamless connectivity. State-of-the-art train interiors will prioritize passenger comfort, featuring ergonomic seating, entertainment systems, and onboard amenities. Advanced ticketing systems, including mobile apps and contactless payments, will streamline the booking process and ensure hassle-free travel. Moreover, the integration of high-speed internet connectivity and digital entertainment platforms will enhance the onboard experience, catering to the evolving needs of tech-savvy passengers. Additionally, enhanced accessibility measures for differently-abled passengers, including wheelchair-friendly facilities and sensory-friendly accommodations, will promote inclusivity and ensure equitable access to rail travel for all.

Infrastructure development

In 2050, Indian Railways will boast a modern and robust infrastructure network, characterized by state-of-the-art stations, rail terminals, and transit hubs. The redevelopment of existing stations into multi-modal transit hubs will integrate rail, metro, and bus services, facilitating seamless intermodal connectivity for passengers. Additionally, the expansion of high-speed rail corridors and dedicated freight corridors will optimize freight transportation, bolstering India’s logistical capabilities and boosting economic growth. Furthermore, investments in smart infrastructure, including digital signaling systems and autonomous train operations, will enhance safety standards and operational efficiency across the rail network.

Railways play and will continue to play a crucial role in building a nation on social, economic and security fronts. In my dream of India@2050, Railways will play a vital role in improving the productivity of the transportation system providing an economy and edge over global peers, strengthening social cohesion by promoting mass mobility and achieving environmental goals. My vision of IR@2050 will be a Railway hauling 50% of the country’s cargo from current levels of around 27%, helping to bring down logistics costs to downward of 8% from current levels of around 15%.

I expect regular fast trains running at 200+ KMPH, connecting major cities spaced 500-800 km apart in less than 4 hours, thus providing a better option than Airways for people to travel. I would love to see the elimination of long waiting lists for express trains, industry getting railway rakes within a reasonable period after indenting for it, and suburban metro rail coverage in all cities with a metro population of over a million. IR@2050 will be a carbon-neutral entity making a major contribution towards India achieving environmental goals IR@2050 of my dream will be without Railway- Roadway crossings, with fencing along the tracks, Airport type Railway stations, and modern signalling systems with modern safety features like anti[1]collision systems and capability of normal operations under adverse weather conditions like fog. INDIAN RAILWAYS of @2050 will provide by leveraging technology a safe, secured and efficient means of transportation for both cargo and passengers. Digitalisation of systems besides making Railways customer friendly will also lead to greater transparency giving a boost to ease of doing business. Modern cargo and passenger terminals will address issues connected with first and last-mile connectivity bringing down the lead time from doorstep to doorstep.

Action plan

For this vision cum dream to translate into reality, while many steps have been initiated many more will need to be taken. Indian Railways is a unique system with a track Gauge of 1676 mm called Broad Gauge. Why Britishers chose this unique gauge for the Indian subcontinent while keeping their Railway gauge at 1435 mm which is the standard gauge for the European Rail Road system is a mystery to me defying logic and whose answer I am seeking till today and am not sure to find in future. This 1676 gauge resulted in the denial of state of art European Rail technology to India and benefited China as they could almost lift from the shelf a design of their choice as they had the same standard gauge of 1435 mm. This was the reason that back in 2018 when we started working on India’s first semi-high-speed train christened Vande Bharat we had to work on its design from scratch. The same thing happened with an Anti-collision device called KAVACH which we had to design indigenously after we found the adoption of European technology ETCS exorbitantly costly to adopt. In a good beginning for the past few years, the government has been liberal with the fund provisioning for the Railways with 30-40 US Billion dollars being spent annually on CAPEX. Annual Rail network expansion has increased to around 5000 kms, with 100% Electrification of Railway Tracks, Mechanical signalling has given way to an electric/Electronic signalling system and coverage of KAVACH the indigenous Anti-collision system across the network is underway. Major contracts have been awarded for the supply of freight wagons, high-speed Railway coaches and high-horsepower electric locomotives. Hopefully, production will commence soon leading to the supply of an adequate quantity of vehicles required for the transportation of men and cargo essential to liquidate the waiting list of passengers and pending indents at goods terminals. It is also important that both Freight and coaching terminals are modernised to bring down first and last-mile detentions. The government has proposed setting up modern coaching terminals under the station redevelopment schemes, similarly, there is a plan to set up 100 Gati Shakti Terminals ( Multi-Modal cargo terminals).

National rail plan

AIM – To build capacity by 2030 ahead of forecasted demand for 2050 .

Towards this it’s action plan is as under.

1. Dedicated Freight Corridors commissioning( Existing and Proposed.) 8657km by 2050.

2. 160 kmph Speeds on Selected Corridors , 130 kmph on other routes.

3. Development of Passenger Stations and Freight Terminals

4. Construction of High Speed Rail corridor (HSR)( 3485 kms)

5. Multy Tracking of trunk routes.

6. Signalling system for higher speeds. TCAS ( Train collision avoidance system)

7.100%Electrification 8. Planning of Rolling stock (Freight , Passenger Locomotives.)

9. Options, Evaluation and Prioritisation of projects.

 Mapping of entire IR NETWORK done on GIS platform

Concerns – 300km + lead share of Rail traffic has come down from 52% to 32%. NRP plans to arrest and reverse this trend and to increase Railways share from 26% to 45% by 2050 . For this to happen railway’s cost needs to come down by 30%. It forecasts is that total freight traffic will increase from 4700MT to 15583MT and with 45% share Railways needs to build infrastructure for handling 7012 MT by 2050 , from present level of 1250 MT . It aims to encourage private ownership of Rolling stock with innovative designs alongside private freight and passenger trains. wagon holding is expected to increase from 3 lakhs to 11 lakhs , locomotives from 12000 to 47000. and coaches to 1, 50,000 by 2051. Passenger traffic is estimated to grow from 8080 million per year to 19469 million per year.

To eliminate detentions , it is proposed to construct 52 bypasses, and 48 flyovers along Freight and high speed corridors Policy initiatives for

1. PFTs( Private Freight Terminals) / ICDS ( Inland container Depots )/ Private sidings ( plan envisages lease for connectivity, reduced staff costs and development charges)

2. Upgradation of existing goods sheds / terminals ( plan envisages private investment in existing facilities and open access for all types of traffic

3. New Common User Model – All public land for common user facilities and IR to support on land acquisition/ land as equity.

Various incentives for reducing cost of transportation have been enunciated.

Funding requirements for implementation of NRP is estimated to be 38 lakh rupees or around 500 US BILLION DOLLARS.

Multiple steps are proposed to attract private investment in Rail sector.

Funding requirements for implementation of NRP are estimated to be 38 lakh rupees or around 500 US BILLION DOLLARS. The government has shown its commitment to implementing the NRP by ensuring funding which includes, unprecedented budgetary support, and asset monetization, besides providing credit at concessional terms.

Bilateral international funding arrangements like one with JICA of JAPAN for the Ahmedabad – Mumbai Bullet Train project is one such move.

International railway routes

In a world which is full of geopolitical uncertainties, my conviction is that international Railway lines can play a major role in developing alternate trade routes which are mainly dependent on international sea shipping lanes. China has demonstrated the potential of Railways in international trade through its Belt & Road initiative. My vision for India@2050 will have a Trans Asian Railway, connecting Hanoi in Vietnam to Istanbul in Turkey via ASEAN countries. South Asian continent ( Bangladesh, India and Pakistan ), Iran, IRAQ and Turkey. Rail lines connecting northeastern states of India like Mijoram, South Assam, Manipur and Tripura with Kolkata via Bangladesh. Similarly, I visualise Rail connecting Kathmandu the capital of Nepal with the INDIAN RAILWAYS network. Rail Connectivity of Manipur and Nagaland with Yangoon Seaport of Myanmar will provide a boost to the economy of the region


The vision for Indian Railways in 2050 encompasses a bold and transformative agenda that embraces technological innovation, sustainability, and passenger-centricity. By leveraging cutting-edge technologies, prioritizing sustainability measures, and enhancing the passenger experience, Indian Railways will emerge as a global leader in the transportation sector, driving economic growth, fostering inclusivity, and connecting communities across the nation. Through concerted efforts and strategic investments, we can realize this visionary roadmap and unlock the full potential of Indian Railways as a catalyst for progress and development in the 21st century