The Railways Ministry on Thursday said it was seeking joint ventures with the private sector in a variety of infrastructure projects, barring its "core function" of transporting passengers and goods.
"The Indian Railways has so far allowed only infrastructure-related investments in the rail sector, which is totally consistent with the government's policy," said Shri Prakash, advisor (Infrastructure) to the ministry.
"The fact is that only 'railway transport' is reserved for the public sector under the industrial policy. Rail transport is defined as operation of freight and passenger trains and does not include ownership of railway track, rolling stock and any other infrastructure related to a railway system," he explained.
While the railways are embarking on an ambitious expansion and improvement plan, minister Lalu Yadav has repeatedly said that only limited private participation would be allowed in its projects and there was no question of "privatisation" of railways in any manner.
Shri Prakash pointed out that private investment in the container business was only to the extent of rolling stock ownership and provision of container services as distinct from operation of such trains which will be carried out by the railways.
As for the proposed Rs 60,000-crore multi-modal high-axle Dedicated Freight Corridor project, the official said private sector participation in it would be limited to the construction of railway lines through the build, own and transfer (BOT) and the public private partnership routes rather than the operation of freight trains.