India to invest $147bn in railways by 2017
Indian Railways is planning to invest $147bn during the next five-year plan period that runs from 2012 to 2017.
Indian Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi said the Railway Ministry intends to borrow Rs500bn ($10bn) from the market through the Indian Railway Finance Corporation (IRFC) during the 2012-13 fiscal year.
"There has been considerable criticism of Indian railways in regards to only partial implementation or sometimes no implementation of the recommendation of several committees set up in the past," Trivedi said.
The Indian Government has sanctioned about ten new electrification projects in the Railway Budget 2012-13, 17 gauge conversion projects to be completed in 2012-13, and the upgrade of 84 stations as model stations during the fiscal year.
An additional 700km of new rail lines are to be added to the network in the fiscal year starting in April.
India is also planning to introduce 75 new express trains, 21 passenger trains, eight new mainline electrical multiple unit (MEMU) and nine diesel-electric multiple unit (DEMU) services, which will also include extending the run of 39 trains and increasing the frequency of 23 trains.
The new express trains would include nine AC express trains comprising double-decker express trains between Chennai-Bangalore and Habibganj-Indore.
During 2012-13, the Indian Railways is aiming to carry 1,025 million tonnes of revenue earning traffic, while the freight earnings target has been kept at Rs89.3bn ($17.9bn), indicating a growth of 30.2% over the current year's revised targets.
Trivedi said with the increase in the number of trains and higher occupancy, the number of passengers is expected to increase by 5.4%, and the passenger earnings are estimated at Rs36,073 crore ($722.7m).
According to a proposal by the minister, Indian Railways will achieve 6,500km electrification of routes for the Udhampura, Srinagar and Baramullah line in the northern part of the country.
The Railway Ministry is planning to set up a new line from Agartala in India to Akura in Bangladesh in a bid to connect neighbouring countries through the rail network.