As India embarks on an overhaul and expansion of its passenger and freight transportation network, we look forward to being its key partner in the ever-changing railway scene. Harsh Dhingra, Chief Country Representative, Bombardier Transportation India, explains to Sumantra Das the trends in the railway sector.
Vis-a-vis Bombardier’s global exposure, what has been your experience in the Indian railway sector? Where are we lacking?
India has been central to Bombardier Transportation’s overall growth strategy and our recent investment into the country is a testimony to the fact that India has become one of the most important markets for us. In recent years, Bombardier Transportation has invested in a major way in India, including its largest ever in Asia.
We have the capability not only to address the country’s rail industry and mass transit system requirements for the production of metro cars, electric multiple units and locomotives, advanced IGBT propulsion systems and signalling systems, but also to supply state-of-the-art Made-in-India trains to neighbouring markets in the region. As we move forward, our large manufacturing presence in India combined with our local experience, international expertise, and eco-friendly technology makes us poised to bring India to the world stage in rail transportation.
The rail transportation industry has made significant progress in the last decade and efforts are underway to enhance service levels, increase customer satisfaction, improve operational efficiency and safety performance. Entry of private players in rail transport segment has allowed Railways to assess the latest technology from across the world.
Indian Railways has undertaken various measures in the last five years for the growth of Indian rail transport industry. The revenues of Indian Railways have been growing in the last few years. The government is planning to increase freight transportation, achieve a quantum jump in rolling stock acquisition, introduce high-speed passenger trains, create dedicated freight corridors for faster movement of freight across India, improve safety systems and standards, adopt and acquire new technology in the field of rolling stock, signalling and telecommunication, undertake green initiatives keeping environment in mind and accelerate network expansion.
Which are the rail segments in Indian do you think need more focus?
The government plans to systematically increase private sector participation for upgrading and modernising the technology systems in the sector. Going forward, the government will continue to play a critical role in infrastructure development of rolling stock, signalling systems and service provision for the growth of rail transport industry in India.
Do you think more privatisation will help the railway transportation system in terms of better services?
Rail transportation performs a key role in providing connectivity and hence enabling economic development in countries across the world, and so has been the case in India. From a national perspective, growth in railways sector serves as an engine for GDP growth and this has been a well demonstrated fact.
Due to limitations in budgetary support and available resources, there is an increased focus on PPP. The railway sector has placed PPP at the centre of its agenda and it realises that PPP is an optimal solution for modernisation of the railway network. There are various projects which can be taken up under PPP and Railway authorities are trying to revamp their policies to ensure higher private participation. We do accept the fact that PPP model in itself is evolving in India and will get stabilised in the coming years. We, in principle, support it and are willing to be partner to Railways, in this venture.