Railways mulls inviting private firms to run trains on some routes
To begin with, the railways will experiment by offering two trains to its tourism and ticketing arm, IRCTC, to operate
The ticketing and on board services will be provided by IRCTC and the railways will receive a lump sum amount in return
These trains will be run on routes which have “low congestion and connect important tourist spots”
The government is seriously exploring a plan to induct private operators to run passenger trains on low congestion and tourist routes and will invite bids in the next 100 days, a Railway Board document shows.
To begin with, the railways will experiment by offering two trains to its tourism and ticketing arm, IRCTC, to operate. The ticketing and on board services will be provided by IRCTC and the railways will receive a lump sum amount in return.
These trains will be run on routes which have “low congestion and connect important tourist spots”, which will be identified by the national transporter.
These will run on the routes like Golden Quadrilateral and connecting major cities. The custody of rakes will be transferred to IRCTC, which will pay annual lease charges to the railways financing arm, IRFC.
Subsequently, the railways will float the expression of interests “to identify operators willing to participate in the bidding process for rights to run passenger day/overnight train sets connecting important cities,” a communication sent by railway board chairman VK Yadav to all members and top officials of railways on Tuesday said.
The letter said that the railways will consult trade unions while finalising the contours of inviting private players to run passenger trains on select routes.
The railways will also launch a massive campaign urging people to give up the subsidy while booking or purchasing a rail ticket. The passengers will have the option to purchase ticket with or without subsidy.
The proposed campaign asking people to give up railway ticket subsidy will be on the lines of the Ujjwala campaign where people were urged to forgo the subsidy for LPG cylinders. According to the Railways, it recovers only 53% of the cost incurred from passenger transport business.
Among other plans, the railways also proposes to corporatise units manufacturing coaches and other rolling stock. There are seven production units across the country.
The proposal says that the production units, including associate workshops, will be hived off into a government-owned new entity “Indian Railways Rolling Stock Company”.
Each production unit with a chief executive officer will function as an individual profit centre, report to the board or chairman-cum-managing director of the new entity.
The railways will immediately start consultations with unions and come up with a Cabinet note for approval for at least one production unit to begin with, and it might be the Modern Coach factory in Rae Bareli.