Private train operations in India are likely to begin by April 2023, said Chairman of Railway Board on Thursday. This statement came a day after Railways formally unveiled its plans to allow private entities to operate passenger trains on its network by inviting request for qualifications (RFQ) for participation on 109 pairs of routes through 151 modern trains.
During an online press conference, Railway Board Chairman VK Yadav said that private participation in passenger train operations will only be 5 per cent of the existing 2800 Mail/ Express trains operated over Indian Railways network.
Train sets have to be brought by private operators and maintained by them, he said.
"Private train operations are likely to begin by April 2023, all coaches will be procured under Make in India policy. Fares in private trains will be competitive and prices on other modes of transport like airlines, buses will have to be kept in mind," news agency PTI quoted Yadav as saying.
According to Yadav, private participation in passenger train operations will mean a quantum jump in technology and coaches that run at higher speeds. 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, which implies either once or twice a month, he added.
"Through this the common man will get better trains, better technology and at low cost. The Indian Railways will continue to run 95 per cent of the trains," he said.
On revenue sharing, Yadav said the private players will share earnings with Indian Railways through competitive bidding. The private operators will also pay fixed haulage charges for path, stations, access to railway infrastructure and charges for electricity consumed.
He also said that private entity will have 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.
He further stated that there will be a power meter in every locomotive and private operators will pay for the actual amount of energy consumed. This will encourage them to keep their energy consumption low, he said.
On Wednesday, 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.
With PTI inputs