The government appointed high-powered panel has given a green signal for giving passengers trains to private players.
- The panel was constituted by the Railways Ministry after Railways Board Chairman flagged off private trains.
- NITI Aayog CEO Amitab Kant is the chairman of the panel.
- The panel has given recommendations on how to go about privatising trains on various routes.
- Already, Tejas trains from Delhi to Lucknow and Mumbai to Ahmedabad have been given to IRCTC on an experimental basis.
- Indian as wells as global players with experience in railway and tourism sectors are eligible for bidding for private trains.
- The entity bidding for private trains must have a minimum net worth of Rs. 450 crore.
- A maximum permissible delay of 15-minute is allowed, any delay above the prescribed limit will lead to compensating the passengers has been proposed.
Private Train Routes
- The private train routes have been divided into seven clusters.
- There is a clear plan for development of infrastructure across these routes.
- Little used stations in the routes like Panvel near Mumbai and Okhla in Delhi will be developed for long-distance trains.
- The private train routes are predominantly in Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Kolkata routes.
- With the work on Eastern and Western Dedicated Freight Corridors in full swing, the railways is of the view that these routes will be freed for passenger trains by 2021.
- Also, there is proposal to allow private trains to run at speeds of 160 kmph on these routes.
- The train journey in a route is compared with the fastest train operated by the Railways in that route.
- To provide comfort to the private players, no train operated by railways will be allowed to tread the same route within 15 minutes of the scheduled operation of the private train.
- The private players can fix the fare, decide on the no. of halts, procure coaches and engines from any source as long as they comply with the standards of Indian Railways.
- The private players have to deploy all the trains within five years of the awarding of the contract.
- The train should contain a minimum of 16 coaches.
Idea Behind Private Trains
- Through private trains, the government is planning to provide better services to the passengers, and also seeking Rs 22000 crore investment to reverse the trend of losing passengers to airways.
- The Chairman of the panel had suggested that a private train can be rolled out within six months of the award.
- The contract period will be for 35 years.
- The contract will be awarded to those who offer highest revenue share.
Indian Railways Snapshot
- The current railway network is about 68,000 kms.
- The reserved passenger volume in 2018-19 was 590 million. It is 16% of the total passenger traffic originating from non-suburban passengers.
- Almost 8.85 crore of wail-listed passengers could not be accommodated.
- Hence, there is a need to introduce private trains to fill the gap.
- Also, for the benefit of the passengers, next generation technology can be introduced in the form of improved coaches and reduced train journey time.