In the wake of the industrial development, in the Eastern region, with the setting up of steel plants necessitating large scale movement of Iron and Coal, substantial growth in freight traffic was observed and this could not be managed by steam traction. Electrification and diesalisation had to be introduced in early sixties to cope with the traffic. Indian Railways completed electrification of 216 RKM (route kilometer) on 25 kV AC traction during 2nd Five Year Plan. During the 3rd Plan, alongwith considerable indigenisation, electrification was extended over another 1678 RKM. The pace of electrification, however, slowed down until the oil crisis of seventies. The second oil crisis in particular brought to the fore the need for evolving a long term policy for electrification to reduce the dependence of Railways on petroleum based energy.
Under the directions of the PMO, in the context of shift from petroleum based energy in transport sector, the Secretaries Committee on energy headed by Cabinet Secretary decided in July 1980 that the Railways should speed up track electrification. Accordingly, the pace of electrification was considerably speeded up and Indian Railways achieved a record progress of 2812 RKM during the seventh Plan, 2708 RKM during Eighth Plan, 2484 RKM during Ninth Plan, 1810 RKM during Tenth Plan and 4556 RKM in Eleventh Plan. In the Twelth Plan (2012-17) Indian Railway has achieved 6244 RKM of electrification.
A lot of emphasis is given to Railway Electrification in recent years with a view to reduce the Nation’s dependence on imported petroleum based energy and to enhance the country’s energy security, with a vision of providing eco-friendly, faster and energy efficient mode of transportation. Indian Railways plans to electrify all BG routes by December 2023 as a mission area. Surpassing last year railway electrification of 6366 RKM, IR has achieved highest ever electrification of 6565 RKM in 2022-23. With this, 58,812 route kilometers(RKM) of BG network stands electrified as on 31st March, 2023 which is 90% of the total BG network.
With rapid electrification on Indian Railways in the 44 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.