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Railways To End Long Run Monopoly In Running Passenger Trains. Open To Privatisation

Indian Railways has picked 100 routes to run 150 private passenger train rakes, and bids for the route are likely to be invited next month, a senior railways officials stated. Adding on that the focus is on improving connectivity primarily between four metropolitan cities- New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai- since they’re always in high demand. 

The Ministry of Railways, at the initial step, will invite private players in the next 15 days to start the bidding process for these routes. The finance ministry’s Public-Private Partnership Appraisal Committee (PPPAC) giving in-principal nod to the proposal on December 19th, the path has been cleared for the railways to roll out its reform in engaging private operators, ending its long monopoly in running passenger trains. 

The Railways Board, the apex decision-making body of Indian Railways, in October formed an empowered group of Secretaries to define the Modalities of the bidding process and take decisions to ensure award of projects in a time-bound manner. The committee comprises Yadav, NITI Aayog Chief Executive Officer Amitabh Kant, urban affairs secretary Durga Shanker Mishra, and economic affairs Secretary Atanu Chakraborty and other officials. 

Privatisation of the Indian Railways will have long-term spinoffs.

The major long-distance routes identified for bidding include Mumbai-Kolkata, Mumbai-Chennai, Mumbai-Guwahati, New Delhi-Mumbai, Thiruvananthapuram-Guwahati, New Delhi-Kolkata, New Delhi-Bengaluru, New Delhi-Chennai, Kolkata-Chennai and Chennai-Jodhpur.

According to the plan, the infrastructure, maintenance, operations and safety will be handled by Indian Railways, private train operators can take trains on lease and provide better onboard experiences and services to the passengers, in terms of food, comfort and entertainment. Official details are yet to be released. An official further added that the introduction of private trains along with the government’s move to restructure the Railway Board will have long-term spinoffs in the way the national transporter functioned. 

Even though the names of the private players interested in bidding for the routes will likely be known at a stakeholder’s meeting scheduled 31 December, the empowered group of secretaries has also given a go-ahead to the modernisation of several railways stations. Nagpur, Gwalior, Amritsar and Sabarmati were bid out last week, for an indicative development cost of INR 1,300 crore, further added the official. 

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