Following the Indian cabinet’s approval of seven railway projects totalling $3.9bn (Rs 325bn), government-owned Indian Railways has appointed its first-ever female Chairman and CEO and seen share prices increase by 38% in the last week.

Former Railway Board member Jaya Varma Sinha took over on 1 September, when Indian Financial Railway Corporation share prices were listed at INR55.75 ($0.67). As of 6 September, share prices reached INR68.75, according to the Indian Economic Times.

Sinha has been placed firmly under the spotlight since the Odisha train collision in June. Widespread outcry ensued after the country’s deadliest rail disaster in two decades, which saw more than 290 people killed and three Indian Railways employees charged.

It was Sinha who briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi – and received praise for how she handled the Indian press and public in the aftermath of the collision.

News sentiment towards Indian Railways and its subsidiaries remains overarchingly positive, GlobalData analysis reveals, despite the backlash and investigation into the Odisha tragedy by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Sinha’s appointment will see her oversee a significant expansion of Indian Railways. It is the second-largest network managed by a single entity worldwide, but it has never had a female CEO in its 169 years of service.

As part of the government’s flagship Amrit Bharat Stations Scheme (ABSS), the Modi-led Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs last month announced roughly INR325bn of investment into seven railway projects across 35 districts around the country. These additional tracks aim to reduce congestion and boost transportation of key commodities.

The safety of Indian railways has statistically improved in recent years, correlating with renewed investment from Modi’s government. India’s Ministry of Railways’ 2023 budget set out that: “In 2023-2024, Indian Railways’ capital expenditure is targeted at INR2,600bn ($727.12bn), an increase of 6% over the previous year.”

Amid Modi’s latest funding promises and Sinha’s appointment as CEO, the Indian Railway Finance Corporation share prices have continuously risen and look set to continue.

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