DUBAI: India will invest $140 billion in its rail network over the next five years, according to the Indian Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhu, speaking in an interview with local media outlets.
The minister also revealed that his office has been in talks with UAE-based sovereign wealth funds this week, around the Middle East Rail event that began on Tuesday.
“We have requested that the government of the UAE look at the huge potential for investment that lies in Indian infrastructure, particularly in the railways. They are very keen to know more about this.”
“We’ve had good meetings with Mubadala and the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA),” Prabhu said, adding that he hoped these issues would progress over the course of 2017.
When asked what amount he was seeking from the funds, Prabhu replied that his ministry had an appetite for “several tens of billions of dollars,” stating that whatever was made available, India would take.
ADIA is the third largest sovereign wealth fund in the world, holding approximately $792 billion in assets.
In January 2017, Prime Minster Narendra Modi said that his government was in “mission mode” when it came to rejuvenating the railways in India.
The Minister of Railways noted that Modi had previously described the railways as “the growth engine of tomorrow’s India”.
“Of the $140 billion we will be investing over the next five years, the majority will go towards India’s modernisation efforts, the introduction of new technologies, and increasing capacities,” he said.
Prabhu confirmed that the government of India has already raised as much as $65 billion, to be spent over the next two years.
He went on to state that India has allocated as much as $16 billion for safety measures, and $7 billion for energy efficiency.
New projects in the pipeline for the country also include a high-speed railway from Mumbai to Ahmedabad, in collaboration with the Japanese government, the conversion of two of India’s busiest routes, Mumbai to Dehli and Mumbai to Calcutta, in to medium-speed corridors, and an increase in the electrification of the country’s tracks “by more in the next five years than the last few decades combined,” Prabhu said.
Speaking on India’s relationship with the UAE, the minister remarked that “our Prime Minister attaches a great importance to this bilateral relationship with the UAE”.
“It’s been a very good visit to the UAE, and I’ve had interesting, fruitful meetings with the leaders of this country,” he said.
In January 2017, His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, conducted a state visit to India, where he was Chief Guest at India’s Republic Day celebrations.