Railways opens CST-Panvel high-speed corridor for FDI

मुंबई Mumbai:  The railways have thrown open the proposed CST-Panvel high-speed corridor to foreign direct investment, making it the first project of the Indian Railways to be approved for FDI.

Estimated to cost Rs.14,000 crore, the 49-km CST-Panvel high-speed corridor will connect south Mumbai to the proposed international airport in Navi Mumbai. The high-speed rail line will help reduce the commuting time between CST and Panvel to around 35 minutes from the current 77 minutes.

The project is proposed to be completed on a design, build, finance, operate and transfer basis. While Railway Board rules allow a foreign investor to put in the entire amount, the railways is willing to provide up to 20 per cent the project cost by way of viability gap funding.

The railways will also help the investor get mandatory approvals, right of way and shifting of utilities, in order to facilitate smooth execution of the project.

The new government in August opened the Indian Railways for foreign direct investment. It has permitted 100 per cent FDI in construction, operation and maintenance of suburban corridors through public private partnership (PPP), high speed train projects, dedicated freight lines, rolling stock (including trains sets and locomotive / coaches manufacturing and maintenance facilities), railway electrification, signalling system, freight and passenger terminal, infrastructure in industrial park pertaining to railway line/siding and mass rapid transport system.

However, the proposed 60-km Oval Maidan-Churchgate-Virar elevated railway corridor does not find mention in the FDI list.

Currently there are no operational projects of the suburban corridor section of the railways through PPP, high speed train and dedicated freight corridors.

Also, rolling stock manufacturing and maintenance facilities, railway electrification, signaling system, freight terminals, passenger terminals, and railway sidings in industrial parks are not separate profit centers on Indian Railways. In view of this, no revenue generation figures of the last five years are available.