Hyderabad: Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Monday mooted the idea of foreign pension funds being invested in initiatives to raise financial resources for the Railways.
"Financial investment is also necessary. That's why we talked about not our pension funds. We are talking about foreign pension funds which would be invested in Indian Railways as a loan," he said at the 15th national seminar on 'PPP and FDI in Indian Railways' organised by the Centre for Transportation Research and Management (CTRAM) here.
Apparently seeking to allay the apprehensions expressed in some quarters, he firmly said that Railways will never be privatised.
"There are people who think that Railways is going to be privatised... I want to tell again that Railways is never going to be privatised. Railways will continue to be owned by the Government of India," he said.
Highlighting that Indian Railways faced challenges on various counts, he said infusing investments and improving technologies and processes are the need of the hour.
There are many institutions in the world which have lot of money and would like to make investments without seeking ownership, the minister said.
"They don't want ownership at all. They want financial returns. It's like a loan given from multilateral agency or others. So, that loan can be put into Railways to create infrastructure," he said.
Prabhu said the government would try to improve things from within the system (Indian Railways) itself.
"So, first and foremost thing is that the Railways needs investments from all possible quarters. As I said, we will go back again. We will try to do as much as much as possible from Railways itself," Prabhu said.
The railway men, with a positive attitude, should help in the cause of making the rail network expand and railways grow, he said.
"Find out resources from whatever sources possible, within the country and outside the country. Put in a way that (it) helps railways to grow," he said.
Stating that the Prime Minister wants railways to be robust, Prabhu said the railway family and even the private sector must join in the endeavour with a sense of belongingness.
The NDA government would like to see the railways as an engine of future growth, he said.
"I said repeatedly. I said just now that railways will continue to be owned by Government of India. But, it will be operated with ideas, with technologies of different types which are in the interest of railways. We want private capital, but we don't want privatisation," the minister said.
Strongly favouring involving railway employees whenever exercises on ensuring growth of the sector are taken up, he said the government would like to ensure transparency.
"Because, they should not feel that something is happening and we don't know. There is nothing that we are doing, which should be done in a hiding room.
"Whatever will be done, will be done in a transparent manner without any hidden agenda. That is for sure," he said.
The Railway Minister later flagged off two trains announced in the 2014 Railway Budget, Secunderabad- Visakhapatnam AC Express (weekly) and Nanded-Aurangabad Express (weekly), via remote video link at the Secunderabad railway station.
Replying to a query, he said the Railways has decided to set up foreign pension funds (SPVs) with states to undertake specific rail projects there.
The Railways and the concerned state government will have equity participation in the SPV.
"Some states say that they are not getting justice. It is possible...We have decided that we will form SPVs with each state. Each state will decide the priorities along with the Central government," he said.
Prabhu said Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu met him three days back, when it was decided to have the SPV and added that he would propose the same to Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao also.