NEW DELHI: Opening the door for private players in operating passenger train services in the country, the government on Thursday said the fares of these trains would be competitive with airfares on same routes.
However, only five per cent of the trains would be privatised, the national transporter said.
“Train sets have to be brought by private operators and maintained by them. 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,” Railway Board Chairman V K Yadav said.
His remarks come a day after the national transporter invited request for qualifications (RFQ) for participation on 109 pairs of routes through 151 trains by private players.
“Private players in passenger train operations will mean a quantum jump in technology and coaches will run at a higher speed. The new technology will also mean that the maintenance of coaches would have to be undertaken only after 40,000 km as against the current 4,000,” Yadav said.
He said the introduction of private players would ensure trains are available on demand, which would lead to less waitlisted tickets.
“Private operators will also pay fixed haulage charges for path, stations, access to railway infrastructure and for electricity. 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,” the railway board chairman said.
To encourage low usage of power, Yadav said a power meter would be installed in each locomotive.
Condemning the move, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said “The railways are the lifeline for the poor and the government is taking it away from them”.
Meanwhile, for the first time in the history of Indian Railways, 100 per cent punctuality of trains was achieved on Wednesday. All the 201 trains that operated reached their destination on time. The previous best was 99.54 per cent on June 23.