India could spend up to $12 billion in upgrading the signalling system on its entire rail network over the next six years to the contemporary European Train Control System (or ETCS), rail minister Piyush Goyal said in an interview.
The contract for the entire 60,000 route km will be given in one go, he added, and companies will be encouraged to make in India. Goyal expects this, and the significant economies of scale that will come about given the volume of the contract to actually result in the eventual cost coming down from $12 billion.
“I am promoting Make in India, providing jobs to people, and preparing India to export this technology to the whole world, because we will become the cheapest source,” Goyal said.
The legacy signalling system of the Indian Railways is seen as one factor compromising the safety of the rail network. Another is the poor state of tracks. Goyal said in the year to March 31, the railways would have relaid 4,300 km of track and that it will catch up with its backlog for track relaying and maintenance by the end of 2019 or the middle of 2020.
Safety was one of his primary priorities when he took over in September last year, Goyal said, and it remains so. “The other is to bring the charm back to rail travel,” he added.