PRIVATE entities will be allowed to run 5 percent of Railways’ total trains by April 2023

First trial run of Indian Railways' Train 18 tomorrow, here's why ...

ENDING speculation, The Indian Railways has announced operation of private trains in the country by April 2023. Ticket fares for these trains will be competitive with airfares and bus fares on similar routes. Indian Railways will continue to run 95 percent of the trains,” addressing an online presser, Railway Board Chairman VK Yadav said. Two train sets are required to be brought by private operators and maintained by them. Private players will operate only five percent of the Railways’ 2,800 mail and express trains. The private trains will operate in 12 clusters, including Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Delhi, Mumbai, Patna, Prayagraj, Secunderabad, Howrah, Chennai. Yadav expects financial bids for private trains by February or March and expects to finalise financial bids by April 2021. Yadav said Request For Quotation bids will be finalised by September. All coaches will be procured under Make in India policy.  Private players in passenger train operations will mean a quantum jump in technology and coaches that run at higher speeds, he said. The introduction of private players would also mean that trains will be available on-demand and that passenger waitlists will decrease. The private operators will also pay fixed haulage charges for the path, stations, access to railway infrastructure and charges for electricity consumed. It will also share revenue with Indian Railways through competitive bidding,” he said. The private entity has to ensure 95 percent punctuality and record not more than one failure per lakh kilometre of travel. “The improvement in technology will also mean that the coaches that now require maintenance after running 4,000 km, will need maintenance after every 40,000-km, that is either once or twice a month. If any performance indicators are not met by private players in passenger train operations they will be penalised,” said Yadav. He also said there will be a power meter in every locomotive and private operator will pay for the actual amount of energy consumed. The move will encourage them to keep their energy consumption low, he added. The private entity will have to pay to Indian Railways fixed haulage charges, energy charges as per actual consumption and a share in gross revenue determined through a transparent bidding process. Commoners will get better trains, better technology and at low cost. The Indian Railways will continue to run 95 percent of the trains,” he said. The statement came a day after Railways formally unveiled its plans to allow private entities to operate passenger trains on its network by inviting requests for qualifications (RFQ) for participation on 109 pairs of routes through 151 modern trains. On Wednesday, the Ministry of Railways invited request for qualifications (RFQ) for private participation for operation of passenger train services over 109 Origin-Destination (OD) pairs of routes through introduction of 151 modern trains. The 109 OD Pairs have been formed into 12 clusters across the Indian Railway network. Each train shall have a minimum of 16 coaches. The privatisation would entail private sector investment of about Rs 30,000 crore. “The objective of the initiative is to introduce modern technology rolling stock with reduced maintenance, reduced transit time, boost job creation, provide enhanced safety, provide world-class travel experience to passengers, and also reduce the demand-supply deficit in the passenger transportation sector,” the Ministry had said. Trains will be designed for a maximum speed of 160 kmph. There would be a substantial reduction in journey time. The running time taken by a train shall be comparable to or faster than the fastest train of Indian Railways operating in the respective route, RB Chairman Yadav said.

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