Railways Minister Piyush Goyal on Monday said huge opportunities are there for businesses in the sector as the ministry is willing to lease out traffic routes and parcel trains to them.
He said the railways are now going to start 150 private trains to move passengers and invited the private sector to participate in that.
"Private sector can support in million ways... I am going to lease out new routes, in the sense that I am going to say that okay you (private players) identify the route (where) you want to set up a train service.
"If you want, we are willing to co-invest with you in new lines. We are willing to lease out traffic routes, we are willing to lease out parcel trains. So, there are a lot of opportunities opening up for the private sector," Goyal said in a CII online event.
He added that the private sector can look at an elevated corridor along the national highways as land procurement would not be a challenge there.
The minister also said that on Sunday, railways were able to move about 95 per cent of the freight that it did on June 21 last year.
"So, we are just 5 per cent down what was on June 21, 2019. If we take June as a whole, we are about 8 per cent down, from June 1 to 21 in terms of freight loading. I believe that by July, we should be at par and and I am looking for growth from August-September onwards," Goyal said.
Talking about the average speed of freight train, he said that on June 21 last year, it was 22.98 km per hr and on Sunday, it was 41.74 km per hr.
"We are using this time intelligently to complete long-awaited maintenance works, to interconnect many lines that needed long hours of shutdown.
"We are also using this time to re-write the timetable of railways more intelligently, bringing freight and parcel trains into the time table so that we can assure businesses committed delivery over long distances in a short period of time," he added.
He expressed hope that the ministry can make freight cheaper going forward.
Further, he said that as of Sunday, Indian railways moved 4,553 shramik special trains and the number is continuously reducing.
"From May 31 to June 21, it has come down to double digits and yesterday (Sunday), only three trains. So, the demand is over. We have sorted out all those who wanted to go back home... We have moved about 7.5 million migrants by trains so far," the minister said.
He added that the railways has started 230 trains on regular routes, "they are not going full as people are still hesitant to travel".