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  • The railway sector in India has been on a high growth trajectory over the past few years. There has been a surge in activity in terms of the launch of big-ticket programmes and schemes, transformation of age-old technologies and an increase in project uptake. Station redevelopment and modernisation works are in full swing. Work on India's first high speed rail (HSR) corridor, the Mumbai-Ahmedabad HSR, is currently under way and several stretches of the upcoming western and eastern dedicated freight corridors (DFCs) have been commissioned.

  • Further, passenger safety and comfort is being accorded the highest priority with the provision of new technologies, systems and amenities. Digital transformation of the railways has been on IR's priority list for a long time. Also, a number of initiatives are being undertaken to improve the share of revenue from the freight business.

  • In the Union Budget 2019-20, the railway sector has been one of the key investment areas of the government. It has received the highest ever capital expenditure of Rs 1.60 trillion. The operating ratio is targeted to improve from 96.2 per cent in 2018-19 to 95 per cent in 2019-20. Some of the other key announcements for the railway sector are the formulation of a new PPP model to encourage private participation, greater investments in building suburban rail networks through the SPV route, and the launch of a massive programme for the modernisation of railway stations in 2019.

  • Going forward, Indian Railways has ambitious expansion and modernisation targets, which will require at least Rs 50 trillion worth of investments by 2030. It plans to undertake 22,825 km of new line and 12,215 km of line doubling works in the next four to five years. Besides, electrification of at least 28,000 route km of railway network is targeted to be completed by 2022.
  • Rolling stock will continue to be a focus area for Indian Railways. It plans to manufacture a total of 4,941 coaches in 2019-20 and 4,839 coaches in 2020-21. It is setting up 17 new manufacturing units. It also plans to develop two new DFC corridors, the East-West DFC and the East-Coast DFC, which are expected to be completed by 2027. The construction of HSR corridors also presents a major opportunity.

  • Many noteworthy measures have been undertaken. However, much remains to be done. The sector is still mired in political uncertainty, which affects service delivery and the financial health of the sector. A huge backlog of projects is a testimony to this fact.

  • For the sector to grow, key issues such as procedural delays and financial instability need to be addressed by policymakers. While the government’s vision is to involve private players in the sector, it must be noted that this will happen only when the ground is set. Policy execution is equally important. Policy initiatives will hold meaning for the national transporter only if they are effectively implemented.

  • The mission of this conference is to analyse the key trends and developments in the railway sector, highlight the recent initiatives of Indian Railways, showcase noteworthy projects and technologies, examine new opportunities, and discuss the key issues and concerns. The conference will also provide an excellent forum for all stakeholders including project developers, EPC contractors, consultants, technology providers and equipment manufacturers to share their experience and exchaange views.

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