Page last updated at 15:36 GMT, Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Indian rail to get big investment

Train in Mumbai
India's rail network is the world's largest

India's giant state-run railway network is to get an $56bn (28.5bn) investment programme over the next five years.

The announcement by Railways Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav came as he unveiled the railway's budget for 2008/2009.

Indian Railways, which operates the world's largest train network, will see the money spent on new routes, better safety and other improvements.

For the current financial year ending March, the network will post a cash surplus of $6.3bn.

This figure represents a continuing turnaround for the network's financial performance, after it was threatened by bankruptcy in 2001.

Analysts said the generous new railways spending should mean further fiscal generosity in Friday's national budget.

The increased spending comes ahead of the next Indian general election, which is due within 12 to 15 months.

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