Railways needs urgent investment for rapid infrastructure development, says Suresh Prabhu

New Delhi(PTI): Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu has made a strong pitch for acquiring investment from all possible sources to facilitate rapid infrastructural development in the sector, besides calling for new ideas and innovative decisions to match current realities and expectations.

Prabhu issued this appeal at the 15th national seminar of the Centre for Transportation Research and Management (CTRAM) here.

The theme of the seminar was “PPP and FDI in Indian Railways”.

The event was held at the Indoor Auditorium of the Indian Railway Institute of Signal Engineering and Telecommunication (IRISET) in Secunderabad.

Telangana and Andhra Pradesh Governor E S L Narasimhan was the chief guest. Devi Prasad Pande, Member (Traffic) of the Railway Board and President of CTRAM and PK Srivastava, General Manager, South Central Railway were among the others present.

Prabhu said that the need of the hour was to understand the symptoms ailing the railways, ensure correct identification of the problem areas and then draw up the required prescription for a solution.

He said that his ministry was aware of the several public demands, including new rail lines and more trains, but they needed to be aware that railway infrastructure at present was inadequate.

Enhancing capacities, decongesting existing routes and and ensuring vertical expansion in cities towards upgrading the network and infrastructure had to be done on priority to achieve the above goals, Prabhu said.

He categorically stated that Indian Railways would never be privatized.

He described the task of upgrading and modernizing the Railways as a national challenge.

Governor Narasimhan said that the Indian Railways has evolved into a modern transport system offering improved options and facilities, and added that PPP and FDI should be encouraged in the sector to meet future demand.

DP Pande, Member (Traffic) of the Railway Board said that the Indian Railways is at the crossroads, and was unable to meet the present demands due to resource crunch. He said that Rs 1.18 lakh crores was needed for the completion of 359 major sanctioned railway projects. He said the need of the hour was a fresh outlook and innovative thinking to generate required resources.

PK Srivastava, General Manager, South Central Railway, called for a broad framework to aid in future policy making.