Private Trains on Indian Railways network: Private players who will be operating trains on the Indian Railways network will have no upper limit to fix the fares and will not require any approval from any authority for it, according to an IE report. This was clarified by Piyush Goyal chaired Railway Ministry recently. At a recent pre-application meeting, a set of queries was raised by prospective bidders on various aspects of the government’s decision to give out 109 routes to run as many as 151 trains to private players for 35 years, according to the report. The national transporter, while replying to those queries said the private train fares will be market-driven, and no approval is contemplated.
According to sources quoted in the report, Indian Railways may need approval from the Cabinet or even Parliament sanction to make this provision legally tenable. Since under the Railways Act, only the Union government or the Railway Ministry can decide fares for passenger trains in India, they said.
According to officials, the fares for the upcoming private trains are expected to be way steeper than existing train services as there is no upper limit for fares and it has a steep project cost because of the expensive, modern rolling stock. The private operator of the train is free to sell train tickets through its website. However, it has been reported that the back end of the website will be tied to the railway passenger reservation system of Indian Railways.
There was also confusion among the prospective bidders over the technical specifications of private trains that Indian Railways wants the private operators to deploy. When some firms asked how the national transporter could seek speed of 160 km per hour from private trains when the country’s rail infrastructure is probably not ready for such high speed, Indian Railways replied that it is a self-explanatory clause and no change is contemplated.
Also, the national transporter did not come out with technical specifications for the upcoming private train sets that it seeks the private players to bring in. According to sources quoted in the report, technical specification contemplated for private operators of the trains is that it requires maintenance after running a distance of 40,000 km or for 31 days. They further said that this is something that is not easily available in the market.