The dynamic impact of running trains causes heavy wear and tear of the track. It becomes necessary to rehabilitate or renew the track periodically to ensure that it continues to be safe and efficient. Heavy track renewals are carried out on Indian Railways every year to keep the track safe and in a good running condition as well as to bring down the cost of maintenance as much as possible. The cost of track renewals carried out on Indian Railways runs into several thousand million. These track renewals consist of complete track renewal, through sleeper renewal, through rail renewal, etc.
About 2000 to 3000 km of track renewal is done annually. As track renewals are costly proposals, they are formulated after a lot of deliberation and are well scrutinized at various administrative levels before they are finalized and included in the annual works programme.
Generally, there is heavy backlog of track renewal work on account of the shortage of permanent way material and the lack of adequate funds for track renewal programmes. Retaining the service of overaged tracks not only leads to an increased cost of maintenance but also affects the safety and fluidity of the movement of traffic. Due to delays in track renewals, incidents of rail fractures have been progressively increasing. Long stretches of track have also been placed under speed restrictions owing to this backlog in track renewals.
The Indian Railways has undertaken a massive programme of track rehabilitation, and as per the current plan, the backlog in track renewal will be completely cleared in the next few years.