Plans for private trains on Indian Railways network gather steam! Recently, Niti Aayog along with Piyush Goyal-led Indian Railways has come out with a discussion paper to allow private players to run as many as 150 trains across 100 routes on the national transporter's network.
Plans for private trains on Indian Railways network gather steam! Recently, Niti Aayog along with Piyush Goyal-led Indian Railways has come out with a discussion paper to allow private players to run as many as 150 trains across 100 routes on the national transporter’s network. The project envisages an investment of Rs 22,500 crore. According to a PTI report, the discussion paper titled “Private Participation: Passenger Trains” has identified a total of 100 routes across Indian Railways’ network. The report which was prepared for discussions with stakeholders has split the 100 railway routes into 10 to 12 clusters.
Private trains in India: Routes
Some of the routes that have found mention in the discussion paper by Niti Aayog and Indian Railways are:
- IRCTC Lucknow-Delhi and Ahmedabad-Mumbai Tejas Express services to be suspended; details
- IRCTC Festival Special Trains: Indian Railways to run several Chhath special train services; see full list
- IRCTC Festival Special Trains: Indian Railways to run special trains for Diwali, Chhath Puja; see list here
- Mumbai Central-New Delhi
- New Delhi-Patna
As per the discussion paper, the private entity will have the right to collect market-linked fares and also, will be provided with the flexibility of class composition as well as halts. The discussion paper also stated that the privatization of train operations on Indian Railways’ network will help in introducing modern technology as well as rolling stocks with reduced maintenance. Apart from this, it would provide world-class service experience to railway passengers. Additionally, the privatization of train operations will also help in reducing the supply-demand deficit. The private operators could be domestic or international entities, the discussion paper added.
On October 2019, Lucknow-Delhi Tejas Express, the country’s first private train was flagged off. The train is operated Indian Railways’ own subsidiary – Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC). The experiment to allow IRCTC to fully run two trains was the first step by Indian Railways towards inviting private operators. The AC chair car train service offers unique benefits such as free travel insurance and partial refund in case of train delays.
The Lucknow-Delhi Tejas Express runs six days a week, except on Tuesdays. The train is fully air-conditioned and comprises of one executive class chair car coach and nine AC chair car coaches. The private train has a passenger carrying capacity of 758. Meanwhile, India’s second private train, Ahmedabad-Mumbai Tejas Express is scheduled to begin operations from January 19, 2019. The train will also be operated by IRCTC.