•The Indian Railways is among the world's 3rd largest rail network under a single management with 66000 route kms.
• Transports 1097 million tonnes of freight annually.
• Runs 21000 passengers and freight trains daily.
• Transports 90% of total coal moved in the country supplying 50% of the power in the country.
The railway network is also ideal for long-distance travel and movement of bulk commodities, apart from being an energy efficient and economic mode of conveyance and transport.
The Government of India has focused on investing on railway infrastructure by making investor-friendly policies. It has moved quickly to enable foreign direct investment (FDI) in railways to improve infrastructure for freight and high-speed trains. At present, several domestic and foreign companies are also looking to invest in Indian rail projects.
Highlights of Railway Budget 2015-16
• Highest ever plan size for Indian Railways Rs. 1,00,011 crore 52.5% higher than ever before.
• Outlay for capacity enhancement works- new lines, doubling & gauge conversion increased by 138%.
• Outlay for passengers amenity works increased by 67%.
• Proposed investment plan of Rs. 8,56,020 crores over 5 years 2015-2019.
• Rs. 96000 crores worth works approved for doubling of lines- emphasis on capacity augmentation
• During first seven months of FY 2015-16, Indian Railways awarded projects worth Rs 10,594 crore (US$ 1.59 billion), more than double the value of those awarded in the same period last year. Most of these projects involve engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contracts
• State government of Maharashtra has planned to set up a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), Maharashtra Railway Infrastructure Development Company, with a view to ensure that the various development projects are completed in a time bound manner.
• A memorandum of understanding (MoU) and an Action Plan have been signed between the Government of India and the Government of China to improve technical cooperation in the railways sector,
• In August, an MoU was signed between the Ministry of Railways in India and the Czech Railways (Ceske Drahy) and Association of Czech Railway Industry (ACRI) of the Czech Republic on technical cooperation in the field of the railways sector.
• The Government of India has cleared a proposal to allow 100 per cent FDI in railway infrastructure, barring operations, via the automatic route. FDI channelled through this route does not require prior government approvals.
• The Railway Board is considering the implementation of the 106 recommendations of the High Level Safety Review Committee (Kakodkar Committee) pertaining to general safety matters, empowerment at working level, vacancies in critical safety category, organisational structure, shortage of critical safety spares, human resource development with focus on education and training research, among others.
• The Union Cabinet has given its approval for establishing a new rail coach manufacturing unit at Kolar, Karnataka. The unit will produce 500 coaches per annum at a projected cost of Rs 1,460.92 crore (US$ 219.34 million). The Ministry of Railways will provide 50 per cent of the finances with the Karnataka government providing land, free of cost, and the remaining 50 per cent of the project completion cost with escalation.