Infrastructure plays a vital role in development of economy of a nation, and rail infrastructure is in fact the most critical as it has a multiplying effect on the overall growth. Over the past few years, this has indeed been the underlying item in all debates on sustainable infrastructure, as the creation of rail infrastructure has significantly lagged the demand in our country.
Indian railways has always played an important role in our nation building.
Today, the contribution of Indian railways is around 1.2% of the GDP and all stakeholders envisage that by 2020, it should reach about 3%. This will help sustainable economic development in the country at a level that was very recently the pride of India.
In view of this, we expected the budget to focus on increasing capacity, on announcement of measures to increase rail share of freight loading and passenger traffic, improving the inflow of funding, on the kick-start of major PPP projects for the manufacturing of rolling stock and on speedy implementation of projects. This would help create world class infrastructure for one of the largest rail networks in the world.
Considering this, we welcome the statement of the honourable rail minister that railway “must earn like a commercial organisation and serve like a social organisation.”
The proposals outlined in the budget 2014-15 focus on increasing safety, eliminating unmanned level crossings through appropriate solutions, increasing passenger amenities, enhancing throughput and loading of freight and parcels by use of state-of-the-art technology and implementation of high-speed rail diamond quadrilateral. All these progressive initiatives should impact industry positively.
The honourable minister also mentioned the need of investment of Rs 5,00,000 crore to build a modern rail infrastructure over the next decade. Moves to bring in FDI and higher private participation would help in this direction. We are confident that the public private partnership projects will benefit from the operational efficiencies of private sector and domain expertise of the railways.
I am confident that the proposed initiatives to form a project formulation and management group and implementation of Decision Support System for monitoring the progress of these projects would give fillip to the Indian rail industry.
With our broad competencies, vast experience and energy-efficient technologies in rail systems (such as propulsion, electrification, automation etc), we will be able to partner the Indian railways in their ambitious plans to modernise rail infrastructure, including electrification, signalling, safety systems, rolling stock of varying speeds , dedicated freight corridors, etc. This will provide direct benefit to our mobility business.
Overall, the railway budget 2014-15 is satisfactory and would be beneficial for the industry, Siemens’ businesses and people at large.
We are committed to transform cities for the better through sustainable technologies and railways remains our key focus sector.
(Tilak Raj Seth is VP, rail transportation cell (CII))