IR mulls private players to operate passenger trains: Reports

Indian Railways plan to allow private operators to run passenger trains on IR’s existing network, reports in several outlets suggest.

Mr Girish Pillai, Railway Board’s Member – Traffic, reportedly stated that officials were considering private passenger train operations, and the modalities of such a plan. He was speaking at an event that was recently organised by the Centre for Transportation Research and Management,

The objective behind the measure was to improve train operations and service quality, according to Mr. Pillai. He did not suggest any timeline for such a policy to be put into effect. It is also not clear what part of operations may be handed over to private players.

IR has mulled the possibility of allowing privately operated trains for years. However, such attempts have primarily focussed on the profitable railway freight business. Private Container Train Operators (CTOs) were granted licenses in the mid 2000’s to obtain and operate container wagon rakes between various Inland Container Depots and ports.

While CTOs continue to operate, steep charges have limited the scale they have achieved over the past decade. Fears of private operators stealing the public transporter’s existing customer base has been one of the factors guiding the Ministry of Railways’ tariff policy for the segment.

As of now, multiple container operators run goods trains on IR’s network. However, govt owned CONCOR continues to be the largest operator on the strength of its infrastructural advantage. CONCOR handles volumes an order of magnitude higher than the second largest player in the sector.

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