At the inaugural session of the two-day CII Rail Connect, held in New Delhi on Wednesday, Suresh Angadi, Minister of State Railways spoke of several interesting developments aimed at modernization of Railways. “With growing consumerism and a large workforce, Indian Railways needs further investment, private participation and focus on freight transportation,” said the Minister addressing the industry and the various stakeholders. “The Government is focusing on market-friendly mechanisms and ease of doing business.”
Echoing the same vision for growth, Vinod Kumar Yadav, Chairman, Railway Board said, “Indian Railways is now gearing up for quantum jump in infrastructure development.” He said that freight transportation has been cross-subsidizing passenger transport. There is no lack of demand, but capacity is a constraint due to lack of land clearance and delayed forest clearances. Under digitalization of railways, one of the many recent initiatives is the introduction of the real-time information system. A pilot project of GPS installation has been run on 4000 locomotives, and automated chartering of trains have been started.
N Sivasailam, Special Secretary, Logistics, Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce and Industry also spoke at the inaugural session. “The logistics’ contribution to GDP stands at 13 per cent, comparable to that of developed nations of 7-9 per cent. The cause of concern is the declining trend of the contribution made by Railways. Therefore, we need to prioritise freight in rail transportation”. He emphasized that digitization, appropriate utilization of assets, encouraging PPPs, and proper dispute resolution mechanisms will go a long way in streamlining railways and attracting private investors.
“With 17 per cent of the world population and only 2 per cent of the land area, it is not a surprise if we are spending on Railways, it is a surprise if we are not,” said Sachin Bhanushali, Co-Chairman, CII National Committee on Railways and Director and CEO, Gateway Rail Freight in his opening remarks on the INR 1 trillion spending on modernization of the Indian Railways. He further emphasized that new and fast services, complete electrification and high-speed, reliable railways is a desirable shift that India is seeing. On the shift to use of renewable energy, he said, “India Railways has set an ambitious target of using over 1200 MW of solar and wind energy for its energy needs. This shows its commitment to creating an environmentally sustainable railway system with an improved carbon footprint.”
Sudhir Rao, Co-Chairman, CII National Committee on Railways and Managing Director, Bombardier Transportation India applauded the Ministry of Railways for its ambition to be the best-in-class in the world, spirit of openness and receptivity to new ideas. He said, “Integration of short, medium and long-term projects is necessary for implementation. Without the success of mass-transit the planet will not survive.” He added that CII will keep assisting Ministry of Railways in mitigating infrastructure challenges in the Indian Railways.