IRCTC to manage two Tejas Trains

The semi-high-speed Tejas Express trains are expected to run six days a week. While the Delhi-Lucknow Tejas will begin services in October, the Mumbai-Ahmedabad train will start in December.
  • Apart from ticket checking and catering, IRCTC will have the flexibility to fix fares on the trains.
  • IRCTC will have the rights to advertise on these new Tejas trains to earn additional revenue.

NEW DELHI : Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corp. Ltd (IRCTC) is preparing for the launch of two brand new Tejas Express trains, an initiative that will help the state-run company generate additional revenue and plan for more such offerings.

This is the first time that IRCTC, which manages the bookings and catering services on Indian Railways’ 120,000km network, will be managing train services on its own.

IRCTC will have the rights to advertise on these trains to earn non-fare revenues, a railway official said.

While the Delhi-Lucknow Tejas will begin services in October, the Mumbai-Ahmedabad train is expected to start in December. IRCTC will operate the two trains for three years. The trains are expected to run six days a week.

Introducing Tejas under a new model is part of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government’s 100-day agenda of its second term in office.

The semi-high-speed Tejas Express trains were first introduced in the Mumbai-Goa route two years ago.

“There are multiple aspects this initiative (of involving private entities) that would need to be planned and solved for,” said Peeyush Naidu, partner at Deloitte. “To begin with, these would cover selection of trains/routes as well as modality of involvement of private players—especially in terms of sustainability of their operations as well as this business model over time.”

The new Tejas trains will be the first to be run by an entity other than the national transporter. Later, more trains may be handed over to private sector entities to raise service standards.

The government official cited above said IRCTC will have the flexibility to fix fares on Tejas. There could be different charges for tickets. For instance, some tickets may be capped at a fixed price, while some others may follow dynamic or flexible pricing. The rest may be sold at half the price of the flights on the same route.

Concessions and railway privileges will not be allowed in these trains, the official said, adding that ticket checking, and catering will also be taken care by IRCTC.

“The trains/routes that would be amenable for private participation would need to be carefully identified with respect to considerations like existing operations of Indian Railways and the role it plays in transportation of different categories of passengers across the length and breadth of the country; financial viability of private operations (given the presently subsidized tariffs); views on potential competition between railways and private players on routes; and finally the impact that selection of such routes can have on Indian Railways,” Naidu said.

As far as ticket checking is concerned, there will be a separate ticketed area at the stations, where passengers with tickets will be permitted to enter. In this case, Indian Railways staff will not get to board the trains to check passengers’ tickets.

IRCTC will also have to sign an undertaking agreeing not to carry passengers beyond the train’s capacity, a common practice in train journeys, the official said.

The state-owned company can also introduce a separate check-in counter for passengers. These trains will have 18 coaches and will be equipped with modern facilities such as televisions, call buttons, USB charging facility and coffee vending machines among others, the official added.

“While the handing over of two trains to IRCTC could help in considering various options and discussing with potential stakeholders, Indian Railways will finally have to come out with a blueprint on the above aspects so as to generate interest from credible private players and for success of this initiative,” Naidu said.