The Railways expects private train operators to start running passenger trains by April 2023, breaking a state-controlled monopoly in this segment.
Railway Board chairman V K Yadav said private players in passenger train operations will mean modern trains running at higher speeds, and catering to a demand that remains unmet by Railways. The private trains will constitute around five per cent of all trains, he said, adding that the rest of the 95 per cent of the trains in India will be operated by Railways.
“Train sets have to be brought by private operators and maintained by them. We are expecting that the private train operations will begin by April 2023. All the train sets and coaches will be procured under this project will be as par Make in India policy,” he said.
The improvement in technology will also mean that coaches that now require maintenance after running 4,000 km will need maintenance after every 40,000 km, which translates to either once or twice a month, he said.
रेल ग़रीबों की एकमात्र जीवनरेखा है और सरकार उनसे ये भी छीन रही है।
जो छीनना है, छीनिये। लेकिन याद रहे- देश की जनता इसका करारा जवाब देगी।https://t.co/M6OQZ6xAz5
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) July 2, 2020
Yadav’s statement came a day after the Railways formally kick-started its plans to allow private entities to operate passenger trains on its network by inviting request for qualifications (RFQs) for participation on 109 pairs of routes through 151 modern trains.
The Congress and the Left trade unions have objected to this move, calling it the first steps towards privatisation of Railways.
On whether Chinese firms will be allowed to bid for these routes, Yadav said, “As far as the question on Chinese companies arises, there are guidelines under the Make in India Policy by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) and we will follow them.”
Yadav said introduction of private players was being done to cater to the unmet demand for reserved berths at present. The private players will offer revenue share and a haulage charge to Railways. The agreement is for 35 years.
He said the move would also mean that trains will be available on demand and that passenger waitlists will decrease.The private entity has to ensure 95 per cent punctuality and record not more than one failure per lakh kilometre of travel. “If any performance indicators are not met by private players in passenger train operations, they will be penalised,” he said.
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