India aims to get on track with rail network

By Rebecca Bundhun  www.thenational.ae

Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station is a hive of activity. Traders from all over the country arrive at the historic station – housed in an impressive Victorian Gothic building – following train journeys that may have taken more than two days.

Goods ranging from huge sacks of rice to motorbikes are unloaded on to the platforms. Lawyers and restaurant workers hop on the crowded local services for their daily commute across the city.

India’s railways are often described as the backbone of the country’s economy. But the antiquated network, much of which was built under British rule, is desperately in need of an overhaul, amid huge financial losses and safety issues. Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, who came to power this year following a landslide victory, is taking steps to modernise the country’s railways by attracting foreign investment into the sector. This is part of a plan to inject 14 trillion rupees (Dh836.69 billion) into the network by 2020. The journey will not be easy, however.

“I know that everybody feels that they have a solution to the challenges which Indian Railways face,” DV Sadananda Gowda, India’s railways minister, said when he presented his first railway budget in May. The “growth of railway sector depends heavily on availability of funds for investment in rail infrastructure. Internal revenue sources and government funding are insufficient to meet the requirement”, he said. More info

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