The Delhi-Lucknow Tejas Express is set to be the first train to be operated by private players, sources said Monday, reported PTI, indicating that the Railways is going ahead with its 100-day agenda of handing over operations of two of its trains to the private sector, despite protests from Railway unions.
The Railway Board is deliberating on a second such route, which too would be within the 500-km distance range.
The decision has been taken by the ministry despite the strong opposition of the unions against the idea of roping in private players to run trains.
Newsclick had earlier reported about the press statement issued by The Centre for Indian Trade Union (CITU) opposition to the 100 – day proposal of the Modi government for privatising the cheapest mode of transport available today for the people. CITU also called upon all the federations as well as unions of the railway employees to “mobilise their entire strength through united actions to stop such disastrous measures”.
Disappointed with the Union Budget 2019, National Federation of Indian Railway men (NFIR), in a letter dated July 6, has also directed “all its affiliates to arrange massive protest demonstrations and rallies wearing protest badges from 10th to 13th July all over Indian Railway.”
The budget reveals the government’s intentions to aggressively proceed towards corporatisation and privatisation, the letter added.
Image of the NFIR letter. Courtesy â NFIR Website
In addition to this, protests have also been reported at modern railway coach production unit at Rae Bareli opposing the Rail Board’s proposal to corporatise its seven production units doing a good job, both in quantitative and qualitative terms.
The Delhi-Lucknow Tejas Express was announced in 2016 but was introduced in a new time table released recently.
The train, one of the most-awaited trains on the route, is currently parked at the Anand nagar railway station in Uttar Pradesh and will be handed over to private players after an open bidding process for operationalisation.
However, the custody of the trains will be transferred to the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), which will pay for it, including their lease charges, to the financing arm, IRFC.
Railways is expecting a lump sum amount in return to the outsourcing of the ticketing and the on-board services to IRCTC.
"These two trains will be given on an experimental basis and we hope that within the next 100 days, we will be able to run at least one of them. The idea was to identify routes which have low congestion and connect important tourist spots. The second train too will be identified soon," PTI reported a senior official as saying.
Newsclick earlier spoke to Arvind Kumar Singh, former advisor to Ministry of Railways to understand about the intentions behind the idea of privatisation in railways. He commented, “A private player is not interested in projects that require heavy investments like putting railway tracks etc. They are only interested in the already developed infrastructure of the Indian Railways and are looking to just provide services and charge exorbitant amounts in return.”
The IRCTC, which will be given the two trains to run initially, has been asked to finalise a proposal by July 10 and submit it to the Railway Board.
The proposal of the Railway Board in its 100-day plan was to offer two trains to operators who would be willing to be part of the bidding process for rights to run private passenger day/overnight train sets connecting important cities. The Railways also said that it would float a Request for Proposal (RFP) and a Request for Quote (RFQ) in the next 100 days.
With inputs from PTI.