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Railway board may allow private sector to own, operate projects, say officials

Rs 1.48 lakh crore has been allocated for 2018-19 in the Budget for the railways against Rs 1.31 lakh crore allocated during previous year’s Budget.

india Updated: Feb 01, 2018 22:56 IST
Press Trust of India, New Delhi
Railway board,Indian railways,Private sector
Sources say the proposal includes allowing private sector to invest in full projects, with railways only charging a licence fee for it. (HT File)

The railway board is considering a proposal to allow private players to own, operate and execute railway lines, senior officials of the national transporter said on Thursday, as the Union Budget earmarked the highest-ever capital expenditure of Rs 1.48 lakh crore to it.

Sources say the proposal includes allowing private sector to invest in full projects, with railways only charging a licence fee for it.

“I would want the participation of private players in the railway sector. Why not? They will only improve our efficiency and bring in bigger investments”, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said today when asked about the plans to allow private players to own and operate railway lines on their own.

Rs 1.48 lakh crore has been allocated for 2018-19 in the Budget for the railways against Rs 1.31 lakh crore allocated during previous year’s Budget, but Goyal plans to mobilise financial resources for the planned expenditure, particularly by accruing private sector investments.

“We are going to improve efficiency. Losses can be made up through efficiency,” the minister told a press briefing.

He attributed much of the delay in railways to the 150- year-old signalling system. Goyal said the railway board has already taken a decision to modernise the entire signalling system.

“ETCS (European Train Control System) II, which is the most modern signalling system in the world will be brought to India. In the next 5-6 years as the system is put in place, there will be no delays due to fog anymore,” he said.

The minister also said India’s most ambitious indigenous train set, which are being built in Chennai, are on track and the first such train which will run at a speed of 176 km/hr will become operational in September 2018.

“In this government, work doesn’t stop. My guess is that as we stabilise our technology, in the near future we will make as many as 100 such train sets per year,” he said.

German-make Linke-Hofmann-Busch passenger coaches named “Train 18” and “Train 20” in consonance with the year of their production, the completely indigenous coaches, are designed to run at a top speed of 160 kmph. These two trains, once operational are aimed at replacing the Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains.

On a lighter note, the minister when asked if AC wait- listed passengers would be upgraded to flights - he said, “Idea acha hai. (It’s a good idea)”

“So you don’t want your tickets to be confirmed?” he asked.

First Published: Feb 01, 2018 22:51 IST