NEW DELHI: Before allowing private players to run trains, the Indian Railways will put in place a regulator in charge of fixing a ceiling on fares preventing a sudden spurt in prices especially during festive seasons like usually seen with airfares.
Responding to a question, V K Yadav, CRB/Railway Board said, “It will take some time to bring in private players to run trains. We will have the regulator, which will deal with fare, allocation of routes and safety. The trains and routes will be allotted through a transparent bidding process.” He also said several private players have shown keen interest to run trains, though he did not take any names. Sources said a couple of players in the civil aviation sector are keen on the project.
He added that private players will be allowed when existing major train routes are decongested with the shifting of 90% freight trains to the dedicated freight corridors. Yadav claimed that the Eastern and Western Dedicated Freight Corridor will be operational by December 2021.
We’ll have the regulator, which will deal with fare, allocation of routes and safety in trains run by private players: Railway board chairman V K Yadav.
He stated that private players will be allowed when existing major train routes are decongested with the shifting of 90% freight trains to the dedicated freight corridors.
Currently, the railways have provided two Tejas rakes to its ticketing and catering wing, IRCTC, to run them between Delhi-Lucknow and Ahmedabad-Mumbai as proof of concept. “We will give complete freedom to the operators. They can provide entertainment facilities, a range of food and beverages. IRCTC has come out with interesting options such as hotel bookings, taxi services and baggage pick from home and drop at destinations and providing a wheelchair to needy passengers,” Yadav said.
He added that the Delhi-Lucknow Tejas will start operation before October 15.
IRCTC targeted getting a maximum business just before Diwali. IRCTC officials had said that they were even exploring the possibility of giving a refund if the train is delayed beyond one hour in reaching its destination. The Ahmedabad-Mumbai Tejas is likely to be rolled out in November.
Yadav also announced several ambitious targets for railways including the upgrade of nearly 85% of the rail network to allow passenger trains to run at 110 kmph. He said the railways have intentionally kept the speed limit at 160 kmph considering the existing embankment of the train tracks and the bridges.
“Higher speed will require a complete overhaul,” he said. Yadav added that the speed of freight trains on DFCC would be 100 kmph.
The railway board chairman also said that they will start e-catering service on trains and at platforms in the next two months, which will allow people to order food in trains and at stations.