Finance and corporate affairs minister, Mrs Nirmala Sitharaman said a Rs 50 trillion ($US 72.9bn) investment will be needed in the country’s railway infrastructure between 2018 and 2030, and given Indian Railways’ (IR) annual capital expenditure is around Rs 1.5-1.6 trillion completing all currently-sanctioned projects “would take decades.”

The government is looking to encourage IR to create Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) as a means of stimulating private investment in suburban rail projects. An SPV structure has already been adopted for the 82km Rapid Regional Transport System (RRTS) Delhi - Meerut corridor.

“I propose to enhance the metro-railway initiatives by encouraging more PPP initiatives and ensuring completion of sanctioned works, while supporting transit-oriented development to ensure commercial activity around transit hubs,” the minister says.

Sitharaman also confirmed the government’s commitment to completing the Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) project by 2022, which will release capacity for passenger services on the existing network, while a “massive programme of railway station modernisation” will also be launched before the end of this year.