By creating an environment favorable to private participants, the Indian Railways, which runs more than 18,400 trains covering 6,856 stations daily, has ensured that both its passenger and freight segments experience rapid and considerable growth.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (automotive.frost.com), Strategic Analysis of the Growth Opportunities in the Indian Rail Industry, finds that the market earned revenues of $48.0 billion in 2009 and is expected to reach $65.0 billion in 2014.
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The ongoing and proposed Metro Rail projects in several Indian cities, including Delhi and Mumbai, have encouraged large-scale private participation in the areas of providing engines and coaches as well as infrastructure development for both domestic and multinational companies. These projects can expand the reach of railways as a preferred mode of passenger transportation.
Apart from persuading private participants, the Indian Railways is also looking to bolster its revenues through the use of technology and investment in port connectivity and rail infrastructure.
Meanwhile, the opening up of the container rail segment for private participation has given a huge boost to the cargo segment. Private investments have gone a long way in reducing the infrastructural limitations of the Indian Railways and creating opportunities in the extremely profitable freight transportation services.
"Already, the 15 approved operators have gained high volumes of freight from various industries, including transportation of cars by rail, which was not done earlier by the government-owned Container Corporation of India Ltd. (CONCOR)," says Frost & Sullivan Industry Analyst Subir Shah. "Once the ongoing project of Dedicated Freight Corridors becomes a reality, several more participants are expected to join the competition of container rail operations and fulfill the vast demand for rail freight services."
Acknowledging the business opportunity presented by the steadily growing freight segment, the Indian Railways plans to invest in connectivity for all major ports. This will allow cargo from/to the hinterlands to be transported directly from/to the port to avoid the bottlenecks of road transportation and existing rail routes. India has the second-largest railway network in the world, covering over 63,600 km and carrying about 30 percent of the nation's cargo.
"However, within the rail network, some key routes such as Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Kolkata have a utilization of more than 140 percent," notes Subir. "To add to the congestion, there are no dedicated routes for cargo traffic and hence, the cargo traffic not only subsidizes the passenger traffic, but is also accorded lower priority."
After being written off as a financially unviable organization by industry experts, Indian Railways has made a dramatic turnaround in the last few years. There has been a paradigm shift from the tariff regime (using freight services to subsidize passenger services) to a focus on freight as a primary growth driver.
Meanwhile, Indian Railways' customer-friendly approach to passenger services has ensured that both passenger as well as freight revenues will escalate, throwing open numerous opportunities for companies in diverse segments of railways. India's emergence as a manufacturing hub for various sectors has buoyed the economy and attracted investments in infrastructure as well as hiked demand and consumption.
"A sharp rise is expected in the traffic flow between manufacturing centers, ports, and inland container depots (ICDs) over the next four to five years," observes the Analyst. "Owing to the cost benefits of rail transportation, the Indian Railways is likely to gain significant revenues from these trends."
Strategic Analysis of the Growth Opportunities in the Indian Rail Industry is part of the Automotive & Transportation Growth Partnership Services program, which also includes research in the following markets: Strategic Assessment of Containerization Trends in India, Strategic Analysis of Air Cargo Market Opportunities in India, Strategic Analysis of Liquid and Gaseous Cargo Transportation Market in India, and Strategic Analysis of Cement Transportation Market in India. All research services included in subscriptions provide detailed market opportunities and industry trends that have been evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants.
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