Private Trains: Tentative List of Routes Identified, Railway Board & Zones to Meet, Discuss Operational Issues

The Railway Board has yesterday directed zonal officials to identify routes or sections on which privately operated trains can be plied. The Board has also asked officials to examine operational issues that could arise with such trains. These and other details are to be discussed in a meeting to be held later this week.

Tentative Routes Identified by the Railway Board:

Long Distance Services
Mumbai – Delhi
Delhi – Lucknow
Delhi – Howrah
Mumbai – Howrah
Mumbai – Chennai
Delhi – Katra
Delhi – Chennai
Delhi – Secunderabad
Bangalore – Hyderabad
Howrah – Chennai
Intercity Trains
Mumbai – Ahmedabad
Mumbai – Pune
Mumbai – Madgaon
Mumbai – Aurangabad
Howrah – Tatanagar
Howrah – Patna
Howrah – Puri
Delhi – Amritsar / Chandigarh
Delhi – Jaipur / Ajmer
Secunderabad – Vijayawada
Chennai – Bangalore
Ernakulam – Trivandrum
Chennai – Madurai
Chennai – Coimbatore
Suburban Trains

The list of identified routes also includes important suburban sections of Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad. It is unclear what kind of commuter trains are expected to be run in these regions by private operators.

This exercise is being undertaken in order to lay out the framework for running of privately-operated trains on the Indian Railways network. It will also help identify specific routes, based on feedback from the zones concerned.

Based on the outcome of the meeting, the RFQ (Request for Quotation) and the concession documentation will be prepared. Going ahead, private train operators are expected to be finalized through a Participative Bid process. The winners will operate the trains according to the conditions specified, and pay the Indian Railways haulage and other usage charges. They will be free to decide the fares they wish to charge, subject to regulations.

However, the timelines to be followed for completion of the entire process are not yet clear.

For a start, the Ministry of Railways has already allowed IRCTC, its in-house ticketing, catering and tourism arm, to operate two services. IRCTC is to operate two Tejas category of intercity trains. One of the trains will operate between Delhi and Lucknow, starting October 2019. Bookings for this service have already begun.

The second service, to run between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, is likely to start sometime in December 2019.

The Ministry of Railways, as part of its 100-day plan, intended to start the process of enlisting private operators to run passenger trains on key routes. The expectation is that private operators will be able to provide better services and experience to users.

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