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Experts highlight strategies for development and modernisation of Indian railways: Rail India Conference & Expo concludes

1 Dec 2022

Rail India Conference & Expo 2022 was instrumental in congregating government officials, industry leaders and experts to exchange insights on the strategic developments, technological advancements, challenges and solutions towards the ongoing multi-faceted modernisation of the Indian Railways. The forum largely focussed on key topics including, policies, technological and infrastructure development initiatives including locomotive technology, station development and modernisation, dedicated freight corridors etc and PPP/BOOT investment model.

The sixth edition of the Rail India Conference & Expo which gathered over 100 attendees from leading companies and associations, proved to be an insightful knowledge platform for senior-most officials from the Railway Board, Rail Zones and major Railway PSUs, as well as leading industry stakeholders from the private sector to collectively discuss ideas for the advancement of the Indian Railway sector.

One of the highlighted projects of the Indian Railways is the technology-driven modernisation of infrastructure and rolling stock. Speaking about the latest railway projects and investment plans of the Indian government, Hon'ble Shri Anil Kumar Khandelwal, Principal Executive Director (Gati Shakti), Railway Board, Ministry of Railways, shared: “Indian Railways is on the path of infrastructure development. We are going ahead of demand to meet the needs of the emerging economy and the logistic requirements of the Indian market. We have privatised our projects and devised ’Mission 3000’ wherein we shall be planning to complete about 40,000 km of new tracks, and 12,000 km of signalling and telecommunication infrastructure. We also aim to complete all electrification by next year. We are also planning to launch 400 new rolling stock and modern train sets for a better passenger experience and procure about 2,000 heavy-duty modern locomotives for heavy haul trades. Plans for the development of 200 railway stations are also in place”.

Shri Khandelwal also elaborated on the importance of the conference in bringing the rail industry together to discuss the future of the sector: “Rail India Conference & Expo has served as a great platform for government to present their policies ahead of the investors for their actual participation in development.”

Shri Sudhendu J Sinha, Adviser, Infrastructure Connectivity – Transport and Electric Mobility, NITI Aayog, who was part of the panel, discussed NITI Aayog's policy support for Indian Railways: “It is evident that if we want to take infrastructure on a huge scale, we cannot depend on the government funds alone. We also need to attract private finances. The PPP schemes and the asset monetisation pipeline which NITI Aayog is driving are some of the stellar initiatives implemented for this cause. In addition, for all the projects that reach out to us we always try to go in for a PPP model. We should try to create a virtuous cycle of private finance and the government and public funds so that we are taking it forward together.”

The conference proved to be a highly-encouraging platform for railway technology builders and solution providers to pitch their ideas forward, such as Vivek Rai Garg, Managing Director, MELPL – Alstom & IR JV, who commented: “Railways in India have been transforming at a very fast pace. We at Alstom, have built high-horsepower locomotives which can help Indian Railways to achieve its long-term vision. Forums like Rail India Conference & Expo provide an opportunity for all stakeholders to come together and share their ideas to take the sector forward.”

Speaking on behalf of leading Navratna PSU - Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL), Gunjan Singh, Manager Transportation Business & Systems Group who attended the conference as a delegate commented on the collaboration between government and private sector: “Indian Railways is heading towards a bright future with the introduction of modern rail transportation. It presents opportunities for PSUs like us BHEL. With so many advancements taking place, BHEL is expanding its footprints and aims to be part of these Indian Railways’ projects like Vande Bharat trains sets, and 12,000 HP high horsepower locomotives.”

After two days of in-depth deliberations, discussing the growth trajectory of Indian Railways ahead, the next edition of the Rail India Conference & Expo is due to take place in 2023.

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*Preliminary figures for 2021