Tentative reforms and some eye-catching projects could herald a private sector-driven shake-up of India's creaking railways, but deeper change is needed to tackle the supply bottlenecks that still crimp growth.
Once seen as a shining legacy of the British Raj and still one of the world's biggest employers, India's rail network crams 18 million people a day on to its ageing trains running from the foothills of the Himalayas to the southern beaches of Kerala.
Decades of low investment and policy stagnation mean India has fallen far behind emerging market peer China in building a network fit for Asia's third-largest economy.
Contrasts abound. While Indian trains are notorious for 24-hour delays, China has made a global splash with a train whose top speed of 486 km/h will halve the travel time for the 1,318 km (819 mile) journey from Beijing to Shanghai to less than five hours by June.
"The Indian Railways is at an infancy as far as the reform and privatisation process goes," said Ranveer Sharma, principal at Eredene Capital, a London-listed private equity investor in Indian ports and logistics.
Text: Matthias Williams, Reuters