The Railways have asked the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion to prepare a fresh cabinet note seeking modification in the policy on FDI to open the doors to foreign investors in projects like the proposed bullet train corridors, suburban rail connectivity and dedicated freight lines.
While rail operations controlled by the Indian Railways will continue to have restrictions on FDI, the country’s “rail sector” as a whole should be opened up to 100 per cent foreign investment, it is proposed.
This means scope for setting up of coach/locomotive manufacturing units owned by foreign companies, infusion of foreign funds in the Dedicated Freight Corridor and, more importantly, capital-intensive projects like high-speed corridors, which the Railways are in no position to fund on their own. The Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train corridor, for instance, will need an investment of more than Rs 62,000 crore.
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi has stressed on the participation of private players in developing the railway sector. Speaking in Katra on Friday, Modi said “private parties would also be ready to invest because this is a good project economically and will benefit everyone”, PTI reported. Rail Minister D V Sadananda Gowda will present his maiden rail budget on Tuesday.
The earlier policy proposed by the government envisaged restrictions on FDI in “rail operations”, which in effect limited the scope for foreign funds in the sector as a whole. The rail budget is likely to spell out the policy initiative, which will be rolled out subsequently with Cabinet approval.