Railways PPPs need Rs 80,000 cr

n estimated Rs 80,000 crore of private investment will be required for implementation of various PPP (public private partnership) projects identified by the Railways. The areas to be covered under PPP will include an elevated rail corridor, high-speed corridors, redevelopment of stations, logistics parks, private freight terminals, port connectivity, dedicated freight corridor, loco and coach manufacturing units, energy conservation, etc. The projects identified include the Rs 20,000-crore Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed corridor, the Rs 20,000-crore elevated rail corridor between Churchgate and Virar in Mumbai, Rs 10,000 crore for redevelopment of stations, the Rs 10,000-crore dedicated freight corridor between Sonnagar (Bihar) and Dankuni (Bengal), Rs 6,000 crore for energy projects, Rs 5,000 crore for port connectivity projects, Rs 3,000-crore loco and coach manufacturing units, Rs 3,000-crore logistics parks and Rs 2,815-crore private freight terminals and other freight schemes. A modified outlay of Rs 5.48 lakh crore has been proposed for the 12 {+t} {+h} Five Year Plan by the Ministry to Planning Commission for meeting the requirements of expansion, modernisation and safety. For financing this outlay, gross budgetary support, successful implementation of PPP in identified areas and mobilisation of internal resources through conventional and non-conventional means would be necessary. Indian Railways, it is learnt, is open to foreign direct investment (FDI) in PPP projects within the overall FDI policy framework.

The Minister of State for Railways, while replying to a question in the Lok Sabha recently, however, conceded that the completion of the projects might be extended up to 13 {+t} {+h} Plan.


Centre-State drama stalls Ahmedabad airport’s warehouse
The opening of Ahmedabad airport’s perishables warehouse has been postponed, it is learnt. The Airport Authority of India (AAI) is believed to have stalled the commissioning of Gujarat’s first perishable air cargo warehouse at the Sardar Vallabhai Patel International Airport because the State Government-controlled agency entrusted with running the complex has allegedly breached the contract by calling in a private enterprise to manage its operations. The AAI officials say Gujarat Agro Industries Corporation Ltd’s move to employ Cargo Service Centre India Private Limited (CSC) violated the terms under which it was allotted 3,600 sq. m at the airport for seven years. It is complained that Gujarat Agro never declared Cargo Service’ name earlier even though it had signed an understanding with the latter in June 2010 for the management of its operations at the new cargo complex and other places in the State. The rule also says that the basic condition for which the land has been allotted on lease can’t be changed. In this case, the condition was that the land could be used only for handling perishable cargo. The Gujarat Agro Managing Director has been quoted as saying, “CSC will only handle the cargo. They are not a beneficiary as claimed by the AAI. We have written letters to the AAI chairman in New Delhi on numerous occasions in the past one year, but they are delaying it.” Yet another example of Centre-State confrontation.


Idle fleet rising unusually since July
There are 400 per cent more containerships in the 500 TEU-plus range laid up at the end of July than there were at the end of July last year, reports Alphaliner, a Paris-based shipping consultancy agency. At the end of July this year, there were 216 units, aggregating 467,000 TEU against the end of July 2011 tally of 75 ships totalling 115,000 TEU, says a report quoting the agency. Hardest hit are non-operating owners whose share of lay-ups is 79 per cent by TEU and 82 per cent by number of ships. Only one out of five of the lay-ups are carrier-controlled as more carriers download surplus tonnage on ship lessors. Panamax ships of less than 5,000 TEU ships suffer most. The idle fleet has been gradually rising since the beginning of July, and shows a markedly different pattern from the past two years when the idle fleet only started to increase in August and September. Carriers are cutting back capacity much earlier due to the weak cargo demand especially in the euro zone areas, with the expected peak season cargo demand failing to materialise. Unlike recent years, no major new peak season strings have been announced so far on main head hauls.


(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated September 3, 2012)

Railway Budget 2012 to focus on upgradation of signalling system

Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi is likely to spell out a blue print for upgrading signalling and telecommunication system to prevent accidents in the upcoming Rail Budget despite financial constraints.

Besides, the Rail Budget will have proposals for state-of-the-art coach manufacturing units in Karnataka and Gujarat.

Railways which has sought Rs 50,000 crore from Finance Ministry as gross budgetary support (GBS), has got only Rs 25,000 crore for the next fiscal from the central kitty.

The multi-crore action plan for upgradation of the system is slated to cover the 19,000 km long major trunk route such as New Delhi-Mumbai and New Delhi-Kolkata and New Delhi Delhi-Chennai corridors.

Budget 2012 at ET: Budget 2012 | Union Budget | Railway Budget 2012 | Budget News

“The upgradation exercise is a long-term plan to be carried out in a phased manner,” said a source in the railways.

In-cab signalling system, similar to the technolgy followed in European countries and already available with Delhi Metro, would be aggressively taken up by the railways, a mention of which is expected in Trivedi’s budget speech on March 14.

Keen on introducing high speed trains, Trivedi is also likley to announce a new bullet train corridor for Rajasthan.

The 591-km Delhi-Jaipur-Ajmer-Jodhpur route is slated to be taken up for pre-feasibility study for introducing bullet trains, which run at a speed of 350 km per hour, and an announcement to this effect is likely to be made on March 14.

Trivedi could also announce a proposal for induction of trains sets, which run at 200 km per hour, on the Delhi-Mumbai route.

A train set consists of a high horse power electronic locomotive with about 10 modern coaches and is estimated to cost Rs 200 crore.

Green initiatives are also likely to get a big boost this time as a proposal for manufacturing as many as 2,500 environmental-friendly toilets could be included in the budget.

The Rail Budget 2012-13 is also slated to have measures for improving passenger amenities at stations and trains.

Railway Minister could announce plan for manufacturing 25,00 green toilets in the next fiscal as green intiative.