Ahead of the Union Budget, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has assured Railways of adequate funding and budgetary support.

Speaking at a FICCI conference on railway transport on Thursday, Goyal pointed out how Railways has used the Covid-19 times to complete long-pending infrastructure works.

Also read: Indian Railways operates 65% of its trains despite Covid challenges

Meanwhile, the Railways is looking at various methods to invite private investment into the freight corridor tracks at a time when it is looking to build newer freight corridors including the possibility of attracting funds through Infrastructure Investment Trusts (Invits), said Pradeep Kumar, Member-Infrastructure, Railway Board.

New freight corridors

The Railways has identified four new dedicated freight corridors of 4,000 km, which it plans to take up, and explore private participation through various models such as annuity payments and hybrid annuity, Kumar said.

Noting that with the Railways planning a capital expenditure of ₹10 lakh crore in the next 10 years, Kumar said it would not be possible for the Railways to achieve the target without private funding. The Railways is also planning to get investments of ₹40,000 crore through its station modernisation programme.

Procuring rolling stock for the semi-high-speed corridors is another area where we would like private investments, Kumar said, adding that entire rolling stock (coaches) for Bengaluru suburban metro is planned through such partnership.

Full electrification

Indian Railway plans to have a fully electrified broad-gauge network by December 2023, Kumar added.

Meanwhile, executives from private and government sector noted that several railway projects are “developmental” in nature and private sector will be choosy about where they put in funds.

For the present year, Indian Railways has an estimated capital expenditure plan of ₹1.6 lakh crore for the present fiscal. And in a year that saw revenue from passenger operations dip sharply against last year, even though freight revenue is expected to top the revenue last year, the Railways is having to borrow more. Indian Railway Finance Corporation, the borrowing arm of Indian Railways, is expected to borrow ₹1.13-lakh crore in these present fiscal.

For the next fiscal, Budget is expected to have higher capital expenditure target for railways including high amount for stock rolling as well.