Washington, Jan 16 (IANS) Indian Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu has asked American enterprises to take advantage of a slew of initiatives envisaging investments worth $140 billion in railway infrastructure to boost transportation efficiency and aid manufacturing.
Addressing a group of investors and infrastructure companies here Friday, he said a slew of initiatives, opportunities and reform measures introduced by his ministry will allow investors to strive and grow.
“Since the last rail budget in 2015, the Ministry of Railways has implemented 110 reform measures, fulfilling all the announcements made in the budget,” he said at a lunch event organised by the US-India Business Council (USIBC).
“We encourage American enterprises to take advantage of the transformation that the entire ecosystem is undergoing,” Prabhu said.
With 100 percent investment allowed in most segments of railway infrastructure the Ministry of Railways envisages investments worth $140 billion in the sector, he said.
These include suburban rail, metro rail, locomotive and rolling stock, manufacturing and maintenance, signalling and electric works and dedicated freight lines.
This “will not only bring about more efficiency in the lifeline of Indian transportation but also boost manufacturing and fulfill the directive of Make of India,” Prabhu said.
Senior executives representing a cross section of business opportunities that included financial services, manufacturing, and infrastructure met Prabhu to discuss modernization efforts in Indian railways and rail infrastructure.
They scoped out investment opportunities and financing mechanisms for the sector as well as the improvements that have taken place in the sector to ensure a level playing field for foreign investors, according to USIBC.
USIBC members New Silk Route, McLarty Associates, GE, Alcoa, Caterpillar and Microsoft among others met with Minister Prabhu during the roundtable.
USIBC President Mukesh Aghi lauded Prabhu’s “serious efforts to give a facelift to the Indian railways and revolutionize the way Indians travel, transport goods and services and conduct business.”
USIBC members comprised of 350 top-tier US and Indian companies advancing US-India commercial ties “are buoyed by the range of opportunities that lie in front of them,” he said.
Optimistic and appreciative of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pro-growth initiatives, Parag Saxena, founding general partner and CEO of New Silk Route welcomed the focus on expanding and modernising the Indian railway through swift financing and private sector involvement.
“In many ways, India’s railway system is the lifeblood of its economy. I cannot think of a stronger leader to modernize and build out this system,” said Richard Rossow, Director, India and South Asia, McLarty Associates.
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])