Keen airline firms touch down to run trains

Representative image. AFP Photo

Indian Railways passengers can look forward airline like services in trains as several top companies including Vistara and Spice Jet have expressed interest to operate trains on high demand routes.

In the meeting convened by the Ministry of Railways recently to elicit responses from private companies to run trains, several companies including airlines, travel agencies and hospitality have shown enthusiasm. 

Companies including Vistara, Spice Jet and R K Caterers have shown interest in the project. Even Indigo and Make My Trip have also enquired about the proposal with railways, an official told DH.

The national transporter wanted to offer about 150 trains at an estimated cost of Rs 23,000 crore to private players for running passenger trains on select routes in next four years, said the official.

The government constituted a high-level panel comprising Niti Aayog CEO, Railway Board Chairman, Secretaries of Economic Affairs and Urban and Housing Ministry to drive the process in a time-bound manner.

The railways wanted airline companies, travel agencies or big hospitality companies or transport houses to run the train by offering quality services to passengers.

The allotment of the train to private companies through bidding and railway ministry will prepare bidding documents soon, said the official.

The national transporter already entrusted IRCTC to run two trains on Delhi-Lucknow and Mumbai-Ahmedabad as a pilot project. Delhi-Lucknow Tejas train is running successfully and received a massive response from the public while IRCTC is working to start Mumbai-Ahmedabad route, said the official.

The private companies, which bags the tender to operate the train, have to pay lease charges and haulage charges (or freight charges for using infrastructure) to Indian Railways. The private companies also have provided inside facilities like catering, cleaning and supply of beddings to passengers.

The private companies can fix train fare, which will be in dynamic mode and also market the train tickets and check the tickets inside the train. There will be no concession in ticket to any category of passengers.  

Upon the success of this plan, the national transporter may also consider bringing its premium trains including Rajdhanis and Shatabadis under this plan said the official.

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