Plagued with a long spell of underinvestment, Indian Railways is firming up a plan for infrastructure development with an ambitious target of pumping in more than Rs 8 lakh crore over the next four years.
The massive investment plan would involve high-speed rail connectivity, station redevelopment and capacity augmentation across the country.
We are drawing up concrete plans for investment of about Rs 8.5 lakh crore in the coming four years for modernisation of rail infrastructure, said a senior Railway Ministry official.
Hoping that a lot of opportunities for economic growth will follow modernization of the public sector behemoth, the official said the National Plan for Railway Infrastructure Development is being formed factoring in funding of projects for the coming years.
As per the plan, while part of the funding will come from the capital expenditure provided for in the Rail Budget, a major chunk is expected to come from outside the budget through PPP and multilateral funding.
Indian Railways capital expenditure has increased from Rs 57,000 crore in 2014-15 to Rs 97,000 crore in 2015-16 and, in the current fiscal, it has been pegged at Rs 1.21 lakh crore.
Talking about huge opportunities for investment in the sector, the official said while LIC is lending Rs 1.5 lakh crore for rail expansion, avenues for funds from other countries are also being explored.
“We have agreements with 13 countries for cooperation in the rail sector. Railways has already signed a Rs 97,636 crore deal with Japan for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed rail project,” he said.
Besides the Mumbai-Ahmedabad corridor, Indian Railway is planning to link all metros with high-speed trains as part of its Diamond Quadrilateral project which requires huge private funding.
On the station redevelopment front, he said there was a lot of scope as the public transporter is opening up 408 major stations for private sector participation.
The redevelopment plan envisages vertical growth of stations with opening of shopping malls, eateries, parking lots, among others. “The proposed stations will be offered through online auction shortly,” he said.