Indian Railways to set up Business transformation Council to increase private investors, says Suresh Prabhu

Indian Railways will set up a business transformation council (BTC) to enhance partnership with private sector investors and raise efficiency and speed in implementing the $134 billion (Rs 8.5 lakh crore) projected investment in coming five years, Indian Minister for Railways, Suresh P. Prabhu said at an the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) event held in New Delhi recently.rail rakes

Prabhu also signed an MoU with the Life insurance Corporation (LIC) which will bring $25 billion to Indian railway in next 5 years at a very attractive rate of interest.

While inaugurating International conference on Railways @ 2020 organized by ASSOCHAM, Prabhu said, World Bank would also support the five year expansion plan besides “Other Multi-Lateral Agencies” like the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and other source.

Prabhu invited industry involvement in the $134 billion (Rs 8.5 lakh crore) railway plans.

“Partnership with the private sector will be one of the thrust areas in operationalizing the MoUs and in opening up huge development in the railways”, Prabhu stressed.

He assured transparency in the implementation of the plan and said that railways are the harbingers of growth in India.

Describing the Railway’s expansion and modernization programme as key to the success of the ‘Make in India’ scheme of the Prime Minister, the Minister referred to the ongoing coal mines auction that had fetched the government an ‘Unimaginable’ $31 billion (Rs 2 lakh crores). “Indian Railways have now to develop the capacity to haul all the additional coal that would be mined now”.

The railway was implementing the plan to raise freight carried by it from 1 billion tonns to 1.5 billion tons and reach global standards in the system. For that it was getting most modern technologies from six to seven countries, in addition to the offers it had received from China, Czech Republic and France.

The latest technology would also be obtained in design and manufacture of rolling stock, new locomotives.

He recalled the decision to have a railway technology chair in Banaras Hindu University and the plan to set up more design and research centres.

Indian Railways is one of the largest railways systems in the world and has today emerged as the main vehicle for socio-economic development of the country. There is an urgent need to modernize the key revenue generating assets of the railways such as tracks and bridges, signaling, rolling stock and stations and terminals. The recent initiatives like larger role of the private sector in station up-gradation, rolling stock and bulk transportation would open new opportunities, Parbhu adds.

The Country Director of the World Bank Onno Ruhl added that his institution was the largest contributor to the Indian Railways expansion programme, especially the Eastern High Speed Freight Corridor with assistance of $2.7 billion. The World Bank was also supporting the multiple transport projects.

He described the Minister’s plan for IR as ‘Inspiring’ and ‘Inclusive’. The IR had suffered so far due to under investment and was slow in implementation.

Minister of State for Railways, Manoj Sinha in his special address assured that the railways would be made an “Investor-friendly” for which “we are talking with business leaders”.

Sinha said “we will talk with an open mind”. Answering questions about pilferage in the goods trains, the Minister said the role of the Railway Protection Force (RPF) in goods train protection would also be formalised with the proposed amendment to the RPF Act. Regarding encroachment in railway land he said the Centre would work with the State Governments to get the land cleared.

Rana Kapoor, President, ASSOCHAM and MD & CEO, YES BANK, said, “I commend the Union Railway Minister’s decisive move to secure funding of USD 25 billion into Railways infrastructure. The move, which comes on the heels of a landmark transformational Railway Budget that stressed on customer experience, safety and operational efficiency; reinforces the Government’s commitment to set the Railways firmly on track to be the unique integrator of modern India’s Growth. Railways has the ability to significantly contribute towards addressing India’s fiscal health and infrastructure growth in the next 4 to 5 years, thereby playing a mission critical role in our country’s inclusive, socio-economic development.”

Railway Board member Hemant Kumar also explained how the Railways was planning to raise the line and the per wagon freight carrying capacities.

Others who also spoke during the conference were Francois Richier, Ambassador, Embassy of France, Milosav Stasek, Ambassador, Embassy of Czech Republic, Le Yucheng, Ambassador, Embassy of Peoples Republic of China, Onno Ruhl, Country Director, World Bank, Dr A K Agarwal, Chairman, Rail Transport Committee and D S Rawat, Secretary General, ASSOCHAM.