New India rail minister proposes foreign investment to modernize rail network

MUMBAI, India – India’s new rail minister has proposed allowing foreign investment to modernize the country’s cash-strapped state railways.

Sudananda Gowda also outlined plans for a network of high-speed trains, with the first project slated to connect the financial capital, Mumbai, with the home state of new Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The ambitious proposals unveiled Tuesday indicated Modi’s government intends to move quickly to follow through on reform promises.

India has one of the world’s largest railways, which transports 23 million passengers a day. Indian Railways is one of the world’s biggest employers with more than 1.3 million employees. The network lost 300 billion rupees ($5 billion) last year.

A 2012 government-sponsored report said the railways need nearly 5.6 trillion rupees ($93 billion) over the next five years to upgrade infrastructure.