Industry body Assocham is seeking a railway budget focussed on safety and modernisation.
Assocham said its team interviewed 7,000 people representing all sections in 20 cities and 60 per cent of them voted in favour of a moratorium on new passenger trains.
"Majority of the respondents feel that the large private sector participation in railways will be possible if investors are convinced that the government is committed to run it as profitable entity," Assocham said in a statement.
It said the respondents wanted the railway budget to focus on safety and modernisation, improving existing track and rolling stock and separation of passenger and freight train lines.
There has been widespread public acceptance of recent modernisation of Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad airports despite the huge costs involved and the private sector participation in their construction and running.
Assocham strongly felt that the country as a whole cannot ignore the huge demand that rapid urbanisation and immigration of people from villages and small towns to metros and mini-metros would create for more transportation.
Though roads would also share this burden, long distance travel could only be comfortable and possible on mass scale with railways, it said.
Accepting that as a public utility catering to the needs of a people with wide variation in socio-economic capability, the railways could not always apply economic viability to every service it provides, it said.
Most people would like to suggest that the transport major must be compensated for social service obligation from general revenues, it said.
Assocham suggested an annual grant of Rs 15,000 crore for now to the railways from the general budget.