India is planning to open up its railway sector to private investment.
In his first budget this week, Railways Minister Sadananda Gowda told parliament that he plans to purse public-private partnerships (PPP), as the new government aims to modernise the country’s rail network.
“The bulk of our future projects will be… by the PPP model,” Gowda was reported saying, although he added that this would not include railway operations.
But the move still opens up India’s large rail sector to much-needed investment, including track improvements, new trains and high-speed services. Interest is likely to be high among international rail companies, including those from the US, Japan, China and Canada.
Other announcements made by Gowda in the budget announcement include the addition of 58 new trains, confirmation of plans for a high-speed line between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, the development of new food courts at stations nationwide, an e-ticketing initiative, and onboard internet and workstations on certain trains.
New Prime Minister Nahendra Modi has put modernising India’s colonial-era rail network near the top of his agenda, although a recent hike in passenger fares has proven unpopular.