Railway ministry will soon be entering into a tie-up with the Maharashtra government to develop and deepen rail network in underdeveloped pockets in the hinterland.
A new company will be created to execute the project, railway minister Suresh Prabhu on Saturday said.
"In the next few days, we will create a company with the Maharashtra Government, which will develop rail lines in different parts of the State," Prabhu told reporters on the sidelines of an event in Mumbai.
"The agreement will be limited to Maharashtra," he said, adding, the improved rail connectivity will help bridge development gap between regions and enlisted possible routes which may be taken up.
These included laying tracks in the Maoist-affected Gadchiroli district in Vidarbha; establish a line between Kolhapur in Western Maharashtra and Vaibhavwadi in the coastal Sindhudurg district and another between Karad and Chiplun, connecting the developed Western Maharashtra with Konkan.
Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis welcomed the move, saying the agreement may be signed within ten days and promised full help from his Government for the project.
He suggested rail routes connecting under-developed Yavatmal district of Vidarbha with Nanded in neighbouring Marathwada and another line linking Ahmednagar with Beed in Marathwada.
Prabhu said there is no dearth of finance for the Railways now, courtesy the newer fund mobilisation ways devised by his ministry and reiterated that a whopping Rs 8.50 trillion will be invested over the next few years.
The Railways is in touch with the Life Insurance Corporation of India and multilateral agencies for long-term finance, he said.
The PSU will also be coming up with a revamped PPP model, Prabhu said, adding we should welcome private investments into the Railways and stop looking at it as a favour doled out to the private sector.
Having already announced to create the Logistics Corporation of India, Prabhu said the Government is mulling creating a multi-modal hub at Nagpur, given its location in the centre of India.
Prabhu and Fadnavis earlier attended signing of a memorandum of understanding between Railway Vikas Nigam Ltd (RVNL) and the private sector firm Dighi Port in adjoining Raigad district for laying a rail line.
A special purpose vehicle, with 26% ownership with RVNL, 11% with the state-run Maharashtra Maritime Board and the rest with the port company, will be executing the 33.7-km line connecting the port, about 150km from Mumbai, with the nearest railhead at Roha on Konkan Railway.
The investment for the project, which entails 11 bridges and five tunnels, will be Rs 800 crore and the partners will be pooling-in Rs 150 crore in equity for the same, an official said.
The project is likely to be completed in two years, he added.