While speaking at Rotary Pier District Virtual Conference 2020-21 on May 30, 2021, Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal made two statements regarding Indian rail network's electrification: One true and one false.

He claimed that India electrified an average of 600 route kilometers (RKMS) of its rail network per year before 2014. He also said that Indian Railways has electrified 6,000 RKMS of its network in the past year despite the challenges of COVID-19 pandemic.

FactChecker referred to official data and found that while the former is false, the latter is true.

Claim 1: Before 2014, India electrified 600 RKMS of its rail network per year.

Fact: Between 2007 and 2014, the average rail network that was electrified stood at RKMS and not 1,031 RKMS as Goyal claimed. Even if the data for the past 12 years before 2014 is to be checked, ie. from 2002 to 2014, the average still stands at 752.75 RKMS, according to a FactChecker analysis of data from the 2012-13 Indian Railways Annual Report and the 2017 Progress Report of electrification in Indian Railways.

In fact, in the first year (2012-13) of its 12th Five Year Plan, India saw the electrification of 1,315 RKMS of the rail network. In the second year (2013-14), 1,350 RKMS were electrified. Besides, going further back may not result into a fair comparison since electrification technology has developed drastically over the years and now it is completely mechanised.

"India also went through electrification before 2014, but at an average of 600 km every year. We changed all of that. Prime Minister Modi took a conscious decision that we will be the world's first large railway to be 100% electrified," said the Union minister.

FactChecker tried contacting the railway minister's office for his comment but did not receive a response. We will update the story as and when we do.

Claim 2: In the past year, Indian Railways electrified 6,000 kms of rail network

Fact: This is true. The Indian Railways completed electrifying 6,015 RKMS in 2020-21, making it the highest ever electrification mark in a single year. It surpassed its previous record of 5,276 RKMS, completed in 2018-19, according to a press release issued by the Ministry of Railways on April 2, 2021.

The latest broad-gauge network of Indian Railways is 63,949 RKMS and with an addition of 740 km of Konkan Railway, it totals to 64,689 RKMS. Out of this, 45,881 RKM or 71% has been electrified by March 31, 2021.

The rail network electrification done in the seven years between 2014 and 2021 (24,078) is over three times the coverage between 2007and 2014 (7,223).

"The Indian Railways has planned to fully electrify its tracks by December 2023. Total rail electrification would contribute to the goal of "net zero" emissions by 2030 by drawing its entire electrical load from renewable energy sources," the press release added.

Globally, Switzerland and Armenia are the only two countries to achieve fully electrified rail status.