India allows private investment in railways in historic move


The Indian Railways has announced a major push for the private sector by inviting request for qualifications for passenger train operations on 109 pairs of routes through 151 modern trains.

The railways is India’s largest government employer, with around 1.4 million employees.

Railway Board chairman V.K. Yadav Thursday said that only 5 percent of the total operations of the railways will be given to private players.

Addressing journalists through video conferencing, Yadav said that if any performance indicators are not met by private players in passenger train operations, they will be penalized.

“Railways runs around 2,800 mail and express trains and we have invited the request for 150 trains which is only 5 percent of the total trains,” he said.

He said that the private train operations are likely to begin by April 2023 and all coaches will be procured under the Make in India policy.

The chairman asserted that the train sets have to be brought by private operators and maintained by them.

“Fares in private trains will be competitive and prices on other modes of transport like airlines, buses have to be kept in mind while fixing the fares,” Yadav said.

He said the private trains will operate in 12 clusters, including Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Delhi, Mumbai, Patna, Prayagraj, Secunderabad, Howrah and Chennai.

He said that he expects financial bids for private trains by February or March and finalization by April 2021 and request for quotation bids will be done by September.

Wednesday, India’s national transporter said that it has invited request for qualifications for private participation for passenger train operations on 109 pairs of routes through 151 modern trains.

It said that it plans to allow private entities to operate passenger trains and the project would entail private sector investment of about Rs 30,000 crore (around $4 billion).

The objective of the initiative is to introduce modern technology rolling stock with reduced maintenance, reduced transit time, boost job creation, provide enhanced safety, provide world class travel experience to passengers, the railway ministry said.

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