Indian Railways is gathering speed. At a high-level meeting on December 8-9, Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal asked railway bureaucrats to prepare a plan for introducing around 150 new routes – covered by premier trains such as Duronto, Tejas and Rajdhani Express – that will be run by private operators.
Of these around 30 private trains are likely to run from Mumbai on both Central and Western Railways. This will be on the lines of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad and Delhi-Lucknow Tejas Express trains, which will soon be operated by the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation.
Sources told Mumbai Mirror that participants in the meeting discussed the new routes, which will soon be unveiled. The private parties will decide the fares and the food that will be served on-board, they said. The companies will also arrange concierge services and pick up luggage from passengers’ homes. The trains are expected to be punctual – they will be given priority clearance in order to ensure there is little delay.
“We will start the bidding process for these 150 trains by next month,” said Vinod Kumar Yadav, Chairman, Railway Board. “As it is happening for the first time in the country, the bidding process will take time. This system is in place all over the world. The entire process will be completed in two parts, the first being Request for Qualification, where in the bidding process private bidders will qualify. In the second step, we will go for Request for Proposal. The entire process will take six months. The details of revenue generation and routes will be decided during the RFP,” he said.
Officials said the Mumbai trains will run from Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, Mumbai Central, Kurla LTT and Bandra Terminus. The routes will be decided by the private players based on profitability and the number of potential passengers. “The bigger problem will be in other states where the passenger footfall is not much. It will be a challenge to get private companies to run passenger trains there without increasing fares beyond a certain limit,” an official said.
These new trains will not be replacing existing ones. The railways will manufacture and supply them. It will get paid in bulk an annual amount for doing so.