INDIAN Railways has announced plans to modernise its telecommunications network as a partnership with the private sector. Optic fibre cables will be laid on the trunk routes under a series of build-own-operate-lease concessions which will allow IR and its partners to market spare capacity to telephone companies and internet service providers.

IR has already installed 1500 km of optic fibre, and plans to extend this to cover all electrified trunk lines over the next four years. This will pave the way for improved signalling, operational communications and data transfer as well as commercial traffic.

Cost of the project is over US$6000 per route-km. At the beginning of July IR announced that it had selected Rail India Technical & Economic Services to manage the installation of optic fibre cabling on the Mumbai - Chennai corridor with branches to Hyderabad and Bangalore. o