The Ministry of Railways and the World Bank organised a knowledge sharing workshop on leveraging private investment in Railways on March 29, 2017. The objective was to showcase the projects that provide opportunities to the private sector for investing their funds in Indian Railways. The participants include representatives of various funds and developers.
Speaking on the occasion, Shri Suresh Prabhu, Minister of Railways said that there are huge expectations from Railways and to meet these expectations Railway needs to grow for which investment is required. Investment is required for decongesting the highly congested network and also for operations, maintenance and modernisation of Rolling stock. Recently a Safety Fund has also been created to clear all backlogs and modernise the safety infrastructure. Recently, we were successful in attracting FDI for our loco factories through a completely transparent bidding process. He felt that compared to previous years, there has been improvement in investment but by itself the investment requirements of Indian Railways are huge. There should not be concerns regarding servicing of the investments in Railways as being a transportation organisation, it has continuous cash flows. A lot of investment opportunities exist in Indian Railways and the workshop would be beneficial for structuring investments. There are possibilities of end to end logistics support. Unless logistics and transport come together, enhancement of business value would not be possible. Partnerships should be the guiding principle for the future. Railways have partnered with State Governments to form Joint Venture Companies. He was categorical that Indian Railways welcomes all long term & short term investors and the multilateral and bilateral agencies to partner with Indian Railways.
The Country Head of the World Bank, Mr. Junaid Ahmad said that Indian Railways is an important player in the economy and the backbone of India’s transportation sector. He opined that in the future growth story of the country, Indian Railways will have an important role to play. He also stated that this was a historic period for the country and for Railways and the Railway employees were fortunate to be a part of this history in the making. He gave example of successful partnership with the private sector such as the Sao Paulo water and sanitation company, Sabesp which serves more than 300 municipalities. He also highlighted the case of the Johannesburg where unbundling of different public agencies enabled them to raise resources from the local capital market and form partnerships with community based organisations and the private sector. In the case of Railways, he felt that apart from financing, the private sector can also bring in expertise in areas such as station development. In the years to come, once the DFC is commissioned, opportunities could be available to the private sector to run trains. Partnering with private sector logistics provider and other transporters will be key to fast ramping up of traffic.
Mr. Sujoy Bose, CEO of National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) shared his experiences regarding PPPs. Presentations were made on station redevelopment, connectivity projects, State Joint Ventures, Dedicated Freight Corridors, Indian Railway Finance Corporation and also on the proposed Railways of India Development Fund.