Today’s interaction is significant as the rail minister is scheduled to present her budget for 2010-11 to the Lok Sabha on February 24.
Mamata urged the private players to set up wagon manufacturing units to reduce the scarcity of rail wagons and come up with proposals to assist building of 49,000 km of rail tracks.
According to a Vision 2020 document, the ministry will require Rs 14 lakh crore in the next 15 years for expansion and development.
Railway Board chairman S.S. Khurana and other senior railway officials were also present at the meeting.
Apart from chambers such as Ficci, Assocham and the CII, around 150-200 industrialists attended the meeting, including heads of the Food Corporation of India, SAIL, Bharat Petroleum, Adani Ports, Siemens, Asea Brown Boveri, GE Infrastructure, GE Electric, Sumitomo, Hutchison and private shipyard builders.
On industry observation about railways safety measures, officials said the ministry was planning to revive the special railway safety fund with a proposal to the finance ministry for Rs 20,000 crore for the next 10 years.
The dedicated safety fund was set up in 2003 with a corpus of Rs 17,000 crore for a period of 10 years.
The ministry plans to use the proposed Rs 20,000 crore for upgrading and maintaining tracks and the signaling system.
Officials said over the years collisions had reduced from 30 in 2001-02 to 13 in 2008-09. Similarly, derailments have dropped sharply from 280 in 2001-02 to 85 in 2008-09.
The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), in its pre-budget recommendation, asked the railway ministry to broaden its scope for public-private partnership (PPP) and share risks.
“The PPP engagements need to be segregated from outsourcing tasks of the railways and must essentially involve sharing of risks and rewards on investments between both partners in the process,” said CII.
The PHD Chamber said more freight would come to railways only if they become more price competitive, provide economical rates, adequately address capacity constraints on the high density corridors.