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Private operators pump $200 million into Indian Railways coffers

Private operators pump $200 million into Indian Railways coffers

Rail operators are encouraged by India’s planned investment in new freight rail lines.

   But at a recent conference in Delhi, one operator wondered whether India is missing the boat in linking to international rail networks being planned across Asia.

   Sankalp Shukla, executive director of Innovative Logistics, one of eight private freight rail operators in India, said it's urgent to set up cross-border rail linkages in Northeast India to take advantage of budding trans-Asia rail networks that will link China and Southeast Asia to Europe and the Middle East.

   'The China-Germany train shows that India will be bypassed if it doesn't plan ahead,' Shukla said, referring to the development of a container rail service linking Beijing and Hamburg.

   Speaking the Transport India conference in late May, Shukla said India is investing heavily in infrastructure.

   'Rail spending in the (government's previous five-year budget) is equivalent to two weeks of spending in the (current five-year budget),' he said. 'That's being driven largely by private players being allowed in, either through public-private partnerships or private freight operations.'

   He said the private operators have so far brought in $200 million in licensing and haulage fees for using Indian Railways lines, locomotives and container depots, and are committed to investing another $1 billion in rolling stock, container depots and logistics parks.

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