History of Railway Electrification on Indian Railways
After commencement of first Railway service between Mumbai & Thane in 1853, first electric train was run between Mumbai & Thane in year 1925 i.e., roughly after 75 years of Railway working. With industrial growth of the country & increasing need for environment friendly mode of transportation, focus in Indian Railways gradually shifted to electric traction. After independence of the country, first 5 year plan (1951-56) had a small target of electrification of 141 RKM of tracks. The target kept gradually increasing and in12th five year plan (2012-17) had a challenging target of electrification of 6500 RKM of tracks. The targets are increasing manifold every year.
Railway Electrification as an organization was set up in 1961, with mandate to electrify Indian Railway tracks as approved by Govt. of India. The unit initially based at Kolkata was called PORE (Project office for Railway Electrification) & was headed by an Engineer- in- Chief. However, owing to growing emphasis on electrification, a separate unit called Central Organization for Railway Electrification (CORE) was set up in 1971, with headquarter at Allahabad. The unit is currently headed by a General Manager.
Indian Railways, the life line of India, is taking the lead in reducing the nation’s dependence on petroleum-based energy by rapid electrification of railway tracks.
In recent years, the Central Organization for Railway Electrification (CORE) has contributed the majority of total electrified sections of Indian Railway.
It has electrified 45,881 Route kilometers (RKM) that is about 71% of the total Broad-Gauge network of Indian Railways (64,689 RKM, including Konkan Railway) by March 31, 2021. CORE plans to electrify all BG routes of Indian Railway by December 2023.
In order to electrify important railway routes for harnessing maximum benefits from their traffic potential, nine project units of CORE are operational at Ahmedabad, Ambala, Bangalore, Chennai, Danapur, Jaipur,Lucknow, New Jalpaiguri and Secunderabad.
The pace of electrification has gathered momentum in the last few years as since 2014, a record 24,080 RKM has been electrified against electrification of 4,337 RKM during 2007-14. Remarkably, out of the total 45,881 RKM electrified so far, 34% has been electrified only in the last three years.
Indian Railways has also commissioned a record 56 TSSs (Traction Sub Stations) during 2020-21, as against previous best of 42, which is an improvement of 33% despite the pandemic.
With rapid electrification on Indian Railways in the 42 years since its inception, CORE has thus achieved substantial savings in foreign exchange reserves since a large component of petroleum-based energy resources is still imported.