Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday called for railways to have better facilities than airports and asked "private parties" to be ready to invest in the project, during the inauguration of the Udhampur-Katra rail line project in Jammu.
This comes as an indication of the Modi government's willingness to increase private investment in the Railways just a few days ahead of the presentation of the Railway Budget.
"We want the railway stations to have better facilities than airports. This is our dream and it is not a difficult thing to do and this is economically viable too, Modi said, reported Press Trust of India. "Private parties would also be ready to invest because this is a good project economically and will benefit everyone. This would be a win-win situation project and we want to move ahead in this direction in the coming days."
Modi also said that he has already given a detailed layout of the project to improve railway facilities to Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda that will bring a "change in the near future". Gowda will be presenting the Rail Budget in the Parliament on 8 July.
The Indian Railways is expected to see a major overhaul under the new government, with Modi promising bullet trains and diamond quadrilateral projects to connect high speed trains.
"Seeing the recent trend and level of activities, I am sure that the government of today will come up with several innovative and out-of-the-box ideas and policy announcements to achieve a quantum jump in freight traffic as well as introduce modern, safe and comfortable passenger services," Umesh Chowdhary, Vice Chairman & Managing Director of Titagarh Wagons told The Economic Times. Meanwhile, Railway-related stocks gained up to 3 percent just a few days ahead of the Rail Budget.
Modi has already created expectations of bringing in a bigger private sector role in several sectors, especially opening of defence to foreign direct investment, to ensure that India goes from being the world's largest importer to become a major manufacturer of arms.
The changing economic scenario under the Modi government prompted Nitin Nohria, dean of Harvard Business School to say that India has "suddenly become a promising investment destination."
During a session in New Delhi a few days ago, the India-born Nohria said that "Better leadership inspires others." He also said that the country has an "amazing moment of opportunity in terms of international business sentiment," according to Business Standard.
"People will wait for six months to see if the initial excitement translates into direct action. It is guarded optimism," he added.