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Suresh Prabhu woos US investors for Indian Railways


Washington: In a bid to promote cooperation in Indian Railways safety, India and the US have joined hands to work on a road show to woo potential long-term investor.

The US Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and visiting Indian Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu disclosed this following a top-level talk on bilateral engagement in the transportation sector. The engagement is a part of the Memorandum of Cooperation signed when Foxx visited India last April.

At the end of a three-day visit on Friday, Prabhu said that there was immense possibilities for knowledge sharing, technology tie-ups and business cooperation between the two nations in the transportation sector.

Prabhu met the Chairman and President of the US EXIM Bank Fred P Hochberg where various issues including the possibility of structuring a financing model that caters to India’s immediate needs and to utilize the upcoming investment and business opportunities in the country’s rail sector, were discussed.

A joint press release stated that both sides have agreed to work on the road show of potential long-term investors who intend to work towards improving India’s infrastructure sector.

Prabhu also met with President and Chief Executive Officer of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) Elizabeth L Littlefield to analyse the prospect of OPIC financing for the Indian Railways.

Prabhu emphasized the significant role of the Indian railways in providing low-cost sustainable transportation. He said this while addressing the World Bank Conference on Transforming Transportation.

The Indian Railways, he said, has embarked on transforming its energy mix by using renewal energy sources like solar and wind energy, and is undertaking energy audits to improve efficiency to meet its sustainability targets.

In his meetings with the World Bank and IFC officials, Prabhu made a presentation on the railway sector to the senior officials of the World Bank Group, showcasing the new initiatives of his ministry and familirising the Bank with various ways to partner with the Indian Railways. He further discussed the Railways’ efforts to expand, modernise, decentralise decision-making, improve efficiency and meet customer expectations.

Both the World Bank and IFC are operating closely with Indian Railways to help it achieve its formidable targets.

At a roundtable conference organised by the US India Business Council, Prabhu described the Indian Railways plans to invest $142 billion in the coming five years. He further expressed hope to double this investment figure in the next five-year cycle.

The senior leadership of the World Resource Institute (WRI) and Prabhu discussed the Indian Railways desire to transform its energy mix. They intend to do that by making railways an eco-friendly organisation through the promotion of use of clean energy and various other initiatives. (Inputs from Agencies) (picture

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Indian Railways Will Promote Heritage Tourism By Preserving Its Metre-Gauge Tracks

The trains are allowed to run at a maximum speed of 30 km per hour, which reduces to 20 km per hour in accident-prone areas.

Indian Railways
Indian Railways. Wikimedia Commons

Moving beyond the five hill networks that are major tourist attractions, Indian Railways is planning to also preserve its old five-metre gauge tracks built during its early days in the British era to promote heritage tourism.

“As part of the strategy to preserve the metre-gauge lines, Indian Railways is planning to preserve few metre-gauge lines, which have the potential to attract more tourists,” a senior Railway Ministry official told IANS, requesting anonymity.

Indian railways presented an integrated mobile application to cater to various passenger requirements, including ticket booking, inquiry, on-board cleaning and ordering meal on a single platform.
Indian Railways to promote tourism by preserving its meter gauge tracks.

“The decision to preserve the metre-gauge lines was taken at a meeting on February 3. Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani, stressing on the need to preserve the metre-gauge lines to promote the heritage structures of Indian Railways, asked the officials to identify such railway tracks on which the tourism can be promoted,” the official said.

“Thus we have identified five lines for preservation — the 42.27 km Visavadar-Talala line in Gujarat, the 16 km Mhow-Patalpani-Kalakand line in Madhya Pradesh, the 162 km Mavli Junction-Marwar Junction line in Rajasthan, the 171 km Nanpur-Mailani line in Uttar Pradesh and the 47 km Mahur-Harangjao metre-gauge line in Assam,” he said.

Also Read: Facts about Indian Railways you can’t miss

“Four of the metre-gauge lines are in working condition, while the one line located in Assam is not operational right now,” he added. The official also said that the Railway Ministry has written to the zonal railways to check the operational feasibility of these tracks. “Once the response from zonal railways is received by the third week of April, the ministry will formally launch the project,” he said.

Giving details of some of the five lines, the official said: “The Visavadar-Talala metre-gauge line passes through the Gir forest in Gujarat and there is thus a speed restriction. Currently, only three trains pass through this section in the day.”

The Mhow-Patalpani-Kalakund line, the official said, passes through picturesque mountains, valleys, tunnels, ravines and crosses the Choral and Malendi rivers, which makes the journey very memorable, especially after the rains.

Facts about Indian Railways you shouldn't miss. Wikimedia Common
Indian Railways have many tracks and trains with historic importance. Wikimedia Common

According to the official, this line was laid by the British about 150 years ago and passes through of the Vindhyachal mountain range. The official said that the Nanpur-Mailani metre-gauge railway track in Uttar Pradesh crosses through the Dudhwa Tiger reserve. The Railways currently operates six trains on the section. The trains are allowed to run at a maximum speed of 30 km per hour, which reduces to 20 km per hour in accident-prone areas.

The British laid this track in the 19th century for transporting timber from Nepal’s forests and from the forests on the border. Currently, the five hill trains — Darjeeling Himalayan train, Nilgiri Mountain Railway, Kalka-Shimla Railway, Kangra Valley Railway and Matheran Hill Railway — are a major attraction for tourists in India. IANS