Focus on modernising railway projects a welcome sign: CII

Chamber Stress on Need for FDI for Railway’s Progress

New Delhi:  The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has called for revamping and restructuring of the Indian Railways by developing a sustainable financial model to ensure feasibility of projects.

The Indian Railways decision to set up Independent Rail Tariff Authority to advise on fixing of fares and freight has been welcomed by Madras Chamber of Commerce while expressing concern over the decline in both passenger and freight earning. MCCI also stated that the minor measures given for improvement of safety and security in railways cannot provide guarantee for fire break-outs in the trains and this should have been addressed keeping in mind the various fire accidents in the recent past.  “Revamping of the Railway tariff, allowing FDI in railways and encouraging Joint Ventures and PPPs must be explored to access funds. This will infuse the necessary momentum to rail infrastructure upgradation,” said Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, CII.

Banerjee welcomed the Government’s emphasis on bringing investment into the Indian Railways through FDI and PPP projects.

CII has been calling for higher investments in rail infrastructure which may be achieved by faster implementation of key railway projects, such as the Dedicated Freight Corridor, high-speed rail corridors, procurement of rolling stock and other capacity enhancement works.

Also there is a need to establish clearly defined policies and developing model documents for PPP development, ensuring transparency about the methodology and thought process behind various policy and operational issues that impact private investments.

Streamlined and time-bound approvals for all projects by setting up a dedicated cell with a single window policy will help in expediting the implementation of projects.

“CII calls for the creation of a formal consultative mechanism between industry and Indian Railways for regular interaction to take up matters related to policy and strategy,” said Banerjee.

“The honorable minister’s statement, in the interim budget, to focus on continuing investment in important projects is a very encouraging move,” said Tilakraj Seth, Executive Vice President (Infrastructure and cities, sector cluster lead, South Asia), Siemens Ltd. and Vice Chairman, CII Rail Transportation and Equipment Division.

“While this is an interim budget (vote on account) Ministry of Railways should focus on speedy project implementation and address structured measures in the next regular budget. The message in the interim budget on enhancing Rail network to include unconnected regions is welcome as it will enhance Rail revenue share,” he added.

Commenting on interim Rail Budget 2014-15, Ramesh Maheshwari, Executive Vice Chairman, Texmaco Rail and Engineering Ltd. and Past President, CII said: “It bears special mention that despite the budgetary approval of the Parliament in place, no orders for wagons have been placed on the Industry for 2 successive years – 2012-13 and 2013-14. As a result, the Industry is starved of workload and struggling for survival.

Umesh Chowdhary, Vice Chairman and Managing Director, Titagarh Wagons Limited and member, CII Rail Transportation and Equipment Division, said: “The budget was more like a recap of the Railways’ performance over the current plan period. However, a few positives from the Hon’ble Minister’s speech were that he emphasized the importance of the Railways as the essential feature for national development and a sector which needs substantial attention and investments.

The minister has also emphasized upon moving forward with certain critical policies and projects such as FDI in Railways, completion of the DFC to free up existing track capacity, introduction of a freight regulator etc. All of these are extremely positive and essential for the future of the Railways,” Chowdhary added.

“Overall, I would feel that the budget has been pretty much on expected lines and all expectation and eyes would be towards the maiden Railway Budget of the next Railway Minister in a few months,” said Chowdhary.

“CII welcomes the move to engage with all the stakeholders for fixing of fares and freight by the Independent Rail Tariff Authority,” said Banerjee.