Private train operations in the country will begin by April 2023, and the ticket fares in these trains will be competitive with airfares on similar routes, the Railways said Thursday.
Addressing a press conference online, Railway Board Chairman VK Yadav said that private players 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, that is either once or twice a month, he said.
His statement came a day after the Railways formally kickstarted 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.
Allaying fears that the Railways network was being handed over to private parties, Yadav told the Thursday press conference that private participation in passenger train operations will only be five per cent of the existing 2800 Mail/ Express trains over IR.
"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,” he said.
He also said that the introduction of private players would also mean that trains will be available on demand and that passenger waitlist will decrease.
Yadav said that the private operators will also pay fixed haulage charges for path, stations, access to railway infrastructure and charges for electricity consumed.
It will also share revenue with Indian Rawailys through competitive bidding.
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,” said Yadav.
He also said that there will be a power meter in every locomotive and private operators will pay for the actual amount of energy consumed. This, Yadav said, will encourage them to keep their energy consumption low.
"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.