Bharat Gaurav scheme: Two Chennai firms seek ‘right to use’ Southern Railways’ rakes

The operator will be allotted a rake comprising 14 to 20 coaches upon the payment of rake security deposit of Rs 1 crore.

Published: 14th December 2021 02:33 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th December 2021 04:05 AM   |  A+A-

Indian Railways

For representational purpose. (File Photo | PTI)

Express News Service

CHENNAI:  Even as the railways’ attempt to operate trains under public-private partnerships (PPP) failed to attract bidders for most of its routes, two private companies have come forward to operate trains under the Bharat Gaurav scheme. 

The scheme, launched on November 23, offers the operators (service providers) the “Right to Use” its rakes from a minimum of two years to a maximum period of the residual codal life of coaches.

The operator will be allotted a rake comprising 14 to 20 coaches upon the payment of rake security deposit of Rs 1 crore.

“Two Chennai-based companies have registered on the portal and are approved by Southern Railway. When this service provider registers the demand online specifying the type, number of coaches, the railways will allot the rake on Right to Use basis for a specified number of years,” said an official from Southern Railway.

The rake shall be used by the service provider in running a thematic tour as per the itinerary approved by Railway.

“The route, schedule and frequency of services will be allotted subject to operational feasibility. It’s up to the service provider to decide when they wish to launch it,” added the official.

The private companies can also purchase coaches directly from Railway’s manufacturing units such as ICF, RCF and MCF under Non-Railway Customer (NRC) scheme.

Besides fixing the tariff, the service provider is allowed to offer an all-inclusive package to tourists including rail travel, hotel accommodation and other services.

Branding and advertisements are also permitted both inside and outside of the train. 

Decision raises concerns about privatisation of trains

While the Railway said the scheme was mainly aimed at promoting tourism connecting heritage and historical destinations, the decision to allow the private companies to run trains for two years with liberty to fix the tariff triggered speculation of privatisation of trains.

In July, when railways invited bids for operating trains under PPP, three clusters out of 12 which offered private trains received bids. Nine clusters, including Chennai, had not received any bids.

An office-bearer of a railway employees unions said, "The terms and conditions for Bharat Gaurav scheme are same as that of private trains. While the driver and guard are from railway, the companies are given freedom to deploy staff for catering and ticket examinations."

Naina Masilamani, member of Divisional Rail Users Consultative Committee (DRUCC), Chennai said, "Trains operated under Bharat Gaurav scheme should only be operated in routes where regular trains are already in service. Monopoly of the private train should not be allowed on any route."

Scheme triggers privatisation speculation

While the Railway said the scheme was aimed at promoting tourism, the decision to allow private companies to run the trains for two years with liberty to fix the rate sparked speculation of privatisation of trains


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