Days after Union Cabinet allowed 100 per cent FDI in Railways, the Railways has identified as many as 17 sectors to allow cent per cent foreign/private investment. The government has framed its FDI policy and made new guidelines to facilitate foreign companies in investing in Indian Railways sector.
As per an Indian Express report, the new guidelines, approved by the government under the FDI policy, were also shared with the Bibek Debroy-led high-level committee on Railway Board restructuring.
Apart from the expected high speed railway, suburban lines, freight corridors the government has opened direct investment in the fields like standalone passenger lines (hill railways), technological solutions for unmanned level-crossings, passenger terminals, bio-toilets, mechanised laundries, construction of bridges and testing facilities, in which the private investor can levy toll.
Besides, the ministry has also laid down several conditions in order to ease the process of inviting foreign investments in the sector.
The Railways, for instance, will give a free hand to the foreign investor constructing bullet train corridor to select its design and fares and the former will not interfere into it.
As per report, in a bold move, the policy also opens the scope for 100 per cent private/foreign investment in standalone passenger lines, like hill railways, for concession. This means that if any private party wants to run the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway and pay the Railways an agreed amount of money in return, the policy will allow it.
A senior Railway Board official was quoted in the report as saying, "There is immense interest in manufacturers across the world to participate in the railway sector. But everyone wants to understand which areas are open to investments and how much. The detailed guidelines fulfill that requirement."
Hence, it will be interesting to see how the new Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu brings the loss-making organisation back on track, with his visionary ideas.