Assocham submits mega plan to transform Railways

Assocham submits mega plan to transform Railways

Industry body Assocham today submitted a mega plan to Railways Minister D V Sadananda Gowda to turn railways into an "engine of growth" through capacity addition, developing high-speed freight network and offering services like e-business and entertainment to passengers.

The proposed mega plan, to be initiated now and completed by 2029-30, is part of the vision of India becoming a seven trillion dollar economy. It will enable creation of freight capacity to handle about 50 per cent of the traffic offered by this level of the economy.

The plan envisages capacity enhancements entailing investments worth USD 2.5 to 3 trillion to make the Railways an engine of growth by creating jobs across the board at various levels, boost demand for construction, steel, cement, equipment, new type of high load wagons, collapse resistant comfortable coaches, latest signaling and electrical items.

It also includes opening up the railways for all types of new services for long distance passengers including e-business and entertainment as well as catering.

"We have suggested to the new Railway Minister a mega plan comprising seven corridor high speed freight network for transporting goods back and forth from manufacturing to consumption centres and from all major ports within specified timeframe of 36 hours," Chairman of Assocham's Committee on Rail Transport A K Agarwal said.

Besides, the industry chamber also suggested building of ultra high speed (up to 300 kmph) passenger services connecting all large and identified urban centres and turning all trunk passenger routes to four line networks effectively separating passenger from goods and services and releasing large capacities for both.

In order to ensure that Indian Railways operate with commercially viable rates as well as to prevent it from misusing its monopoly power against freight or passengers, Assocham has suggested setting up of a regulatory body and putting in place legal provisions to fix all charges levied for the services provided by Railways.

A decision offering full management control to the special purpose vehicles (SPVs) or joint ventures set up for each project component would help boost PPP response from the private sector, the study suggested.

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