Indian railways will give private firms the freedom to decide upon the fare to be charged from passengers as it is gearing up to get run 151 run trains across 100 routes, via public private partnership (PPP).
These companies will also have to the existing Indian Railway Passenger Reservation System for booking of tickets. However, a mechanism will be built in to transfer the revenue earned to an escrow account, according to the Project Information Memorandum Document (PIM) released by the national transporter. The PIM aims to give prospective bidders a broad understanding of the proposed passenger train operations.
To give advantage to the latest entrants, railways will offer a ‘non-discriminatory’ access to the trains operated by the concessionaire. “No new similar scheduled train will depart the originating station in the same origin destination route within 60 minutes of the scheduled departure of the concessionaires train. However, this restriction shall not apply in case capacity utilization of the concessionaire train is more than 80% in the previous three months,” it said.
These 151 additional trains will run the busiest routes, where the demand unmet or there are many waitlisted passengers and private participation in train operations will allow next generation technology, better quality, ensuring use of improved coach technology and reduced journey time.
The concession period for the project will be 35 years and the private firm will have fixed haulage charges, energy charges as per actual consumption and a share in gross revenue determined through a bidding process. Railways will look into the safety measures of these trains, which will be operated by the driver and guard of the national transporter.
The gross revenue will include amount accruing to the concessionaire from the passengers from services such as amount printed on ticket- fare, amount from preferred seat options, baggage, cargo, if it is not included in the ticket fare, amount from on-board services such as – catering, bed roll, content on demand, wi-fi. “Any amount accruing to the concessionaire on account of advertising, branding and naming rights pursuant to the concession agreement,” it said.
Last week, railways invited proposals to shortlist bidders and allow private companies run 151 modern passenger trains. Financial bids will then open by February-March 2021 and by April, 2023, trains will be operationalized, Railway Board Chairman Vinod Kumar Yadav had said.
The project would entail private sector investment of about ₹30,000 crore. These trains will operate in 12 clusters, including Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Delhi, Mumbai, Patna, Prayagraj, Secunderabad, Howrah, Chennai.
The private companies will be in charge of the maintenance of the trains. Railways will provide space to private firms in the existing maintenance depots for up-gradation or setting up its maintenance depot. “The concessionaire will bring its manpower, tools and plants as required for undertaking the maintenance obligations,” it said, adding that scheduled maintenance of the trains shall not be before 31 days or a travel of 40,000 km of such previous scheduled maintenance, whichever is later.