India's rickety railways are in deep financial trouble, raising doubts over an ambitious modernisation drive to upgrade the network, which kills thousands of people each year. Samantha Vadas reports.
It's an all too common sight in India. Trains slipping off the tracks as they buckle under the country's rickety rail network. Poor up keep has lead to frequent accidents killing thousands of people each year. It's one of the reasons Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to overhaul his mammoth train system. A lifeline for more than 20 million people who use it every day. It's a five-year project priced at 133 billion dollars. But with rising expenses and debts shooting up there's little sign of progress for upgrading and expansion. If there's anywhere in desperate need of that, it's here. The 150-year-old station near New Delhi is one of the country's busiest junctions. On any given day dozens of freight trains squeeze between hundreds of packed passenger trains. The station is one of 400 earmarked for redevelopment to generate revenues that don't come from fares, but make money through things like shopping malls. Two years later, the project is yet to get off the ground. One expert tells Reuters he sees no alternative to drastic reforms for India's rail network. And as railways become hamstrung by some of the world's highest cargo rates and priced out by cheaper road and air transport that won't be easy.