In the Union Budget 2020, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced the introduction of 150 private trains in the next 3-4 years.
Status of Railway Budget 2020: As the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a heavy toll on the economy, Indian Railways suffered a huge loss this year. However, the national transporter left no stone unturned to provide the best of railway services to passengers by introducing various special trains, covid safety-related measures, etc. In the Union Budget 2020, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced the introduction of 150 private trains in the next 3-4 years. Besides, the minister also announced that more Tejas Express-style trains will be put into service on key tourism routes. The Tejas Express trains that are run by IRCTC are a more premium version of the Shatabdi Express-style AC Chair Car trains.
Earlier this year, the Railway Ministry had invited RFQs for the participation of the private sector for running of passenger trains over 109 OD pairs of routes through the introduction of as many as 151 modern rakes. These private train services are going to ply over those routes where there the demand for trains is already higher than the existing capacity. According to the Railway Ministry, the 109 OD Pairs of routes have been formed into twelve clusters across the country’s rail network. Each of these private trains will boast a minimum of 16 coaches. The private trains’ project would entail approximately Rs 30,000 crore investment from the private sector.
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Last month, the Railway Ministry notified that the national transporter has completed the RFQ evaluations for public-private partnership (PPP) in Passenger Train Operations Project. Out of 120 total applications, Indian Railways has identified 102 applications that are eligible to participate in the RFP stage. The majority of private trains are to be manufactured under the ‘Make in India’ initiative. For procuring, financing, operating and maintaining these trains, the private entity shall be responsible.
It is being said that the private trains will be designed for a maximum speed of 160 km per hour. With such high speed, there would be a drastic reduction in travel time. The objective of launching private trains to the Indian Railways network is to introduce modern technology rolling stock with reduced transit time, reduced maintenance, provide enhanced safety, provide world-class journey experience, boost job creation, as well as to reduce the demand-supply deficit in the sector of passenger transportation.
The Union Budget 2020 also mentioned introducing more IRCTC Tejas Express-type trains in the coming years. At present, three IRCTC trains are being operated on the Indian Railways network by the corporation, which is the catering and e-ticketing arm of the national transporter. The IRCTC Tejas Express trains are equipped with various modern features such as CCTVs, wide glass-bottom luggage racks, modular bio-toilets, tea/coffee vending machines, sliding doors, automatic entry and exit doors, personalized reading lights, call buttons, charging points for mobiles/laptops, personalized LED entertainment-cum-information screens, windows with button-operated Venetian blinds, etc.