Railways mulls privatising train services in coming years

New Delhi (IANS) Railway Board Chairman V.K. Yadav on Monday said the national transporter will offer more trains to private players in the coming years. He said on private basis, the first Tejas Express train operated by the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) will start running between Delhi-Lucknow from October this year.

Interacting with reporters, Yadav said, "We are going to work on the speed enhancement of the Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Howrah corridor to 160 kmph in the next four years. The Eastern and Western Dedicated Freight Corridor will be completed by 2021 which will have the speed of 100 kmph. Once these dedicated freight and passenger corridors are operational, we can introduce more trains to private players."

He said, offering trains to private players is important for the Railways to sustain and grow. Yadav said, however, the maintenance of the train coaches, locomotives will be done by the Railways. He said Railways will provide its own crew of loco pilots and guards to run those trains, and the private players will have the remaining of the services such as ticketing, entertainment and other services on board the trains.

He said the privatisation plan will take time. "We have started working on the plan and many companies have shown interest in the idea," Yadav said.

"We have already given two Tejas Express trains to IRCTC," he said. "The first train to run on a private basis will be Tejas Express between Delhi-Lucknow and it will start running from October this year."

The Railways has also identified the next route to run another set of Tejas Express on a private basis between Mumbai-Ahmedabad section. "In Mumbai-Ahmedabad section, another Tejas Express operated by the IRCTC will start from November this year," he said.

Many companies are supportive of Railways' idea of providing pick-and-drop taxi facility for the train passengers, carrying the baggage of the passengers, more entertainment system on board the train, good food and hotel and taxi bookings, he said.

The Railway Board Chairman also stressed the need for corporatisation of Indian Railways manufacturing units. "Though no decision has been taken yet, we are talking to all stakeholders. We are preparing ourselves and also preparing the report on how to maximise the income of the Railways," he said.

Giving the example of the China on corporatisation, he said, "The Chinese corporatised their railways manufacturing units and then they started exporting their trains to over 100 countries."

The government's idea of corporatisation of the Rae Bareli Modern Rail Coach factory has brought the railways under pressure as the railway workers protested against it. Congress interim Chief Sonia Gandhi, during Parliament's Budget Session in July this year had accused the government of planning to privatize six rail production units, saying it was a "first attempt" to hand over the country's priceless assets to private hands cheaply, leaving thousands unemployed.

The Chairman said the national transporter is bringing some changes in the Railway Development Authority (RDA) to take proper decision on the regulatory authority and route allocation.

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