Indian Railways plans to offer as many as 500 trains to private operators over the next five years, a senior railway ministry official said. The railways is already in the process of finalizing the bidding document for 150 such trains that will be run by private operators in the first phase. This will be followed by 350 additional trains which will also be run by private operators, the official said, requesting anonymity.
Indian Railways runs around 13,000 passenger trains every day and it estimates an additional requirement of 3,000-4,000 trains to meet growing passenger demand. Private train operators will be able to handle some of the traffic. The step is also expected to boost private investment in the sector and ease burden on government finances.
In a first, as many as 150 modern trains will be run by private operators across 100 routes, offering world-class technology and services to passengers, along with improving punctuality. A discussion paper issued last month by the government’s policy think tank NITI Aayog and the railway ministry has forecast an investment of about ₹22,500 crore to run these trains.
Indian Railways in the draft proposal has listed out 100 routes for the private sector which will require around 150 world-class train rakes. While the private sector is allowed to bring their own trains, they have to meet the standards set by Indian Railways’ RDSO. Asked whether the new swanky trains will be made in India, Yadav said, “We are finalsing the policy. We would obviously want a Make in India component to the proposal, but it is too early to talk about the details”.
The finalisation of bids will take around 6 months and then the private player will be able to finalise the train rakes etc. “I believe that in around 24 months we should see private trains in India,” Yadav said. The private operator will have to pay fixed per kilometre haulage charges and additionally a share of the revenue that is generated from operating the trains.