In his maiden budget, Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda said the bulk of future railway projects will be financed through public-private partnerships and his ministry would seek cabinet approval for allowing foreign direct investment in the state-owned network, excluding passenger services.
India’s railway, the world’s fourth-largest, has suffered from years of low investment and populist policies to subsidise fares. This has turned a once-mighty system into a slow and congested network that crimps economic growth.
The Narendra Modi government pushed through a steep hike in rail passenger and freight fares last month, and expectations were high there would be bold proposals to improve the railways – a lifeline for 23 million Indians every day.
On Tuesday, Gowda proposed the introduction of bullet trains between Mumbai and Ahmedabad; the revamp of e-ticketing services; the deployment of women police on ladies’ coaches; and setting up a railway university.
Here are some of the key announcements: