Private Trains: Major Reform move by PM Modi

4 days ago, the Government announced Private Trains, this is one of the most serious moves by PM Modi.

The Ministry of Railways opened the doors for Private Trains. The Ministry has stated that the key objectives of this initiative are as follows

  • Provide world class travel experience to passengers
  • Reduce demand supply deficit in the passenger transportation sector.
  • Reduced transit time
  • Provide enhanced safety
  • Introduce modern technology rolling stock with reduced maintenance
  • Boost job creation

Which Cities get how many Private Trains?

  1. Mumbai gets 56 Pairs
  2. Delhi gets 40 Pairs
  3. Howrah gets 26 Pairs
  4. Chennai gets 22 pairs
  5. Bangalore gets 20 Pairs
  6. Secunderabad gets 14 Pairs
  7. Pune gets 12 Pairs
  8. Varanasi gets 12 Pairs
  9. Guwahati gets 10 Pairs
  10. Prayagraj gets 10 Pairs
  11. Patna gets 10 Pairs
  12. Jaipur gets 9 Pairs
  13. Surat gets 8 Pairs
  14. Chandigarh gets 6 Pairs
  15. Ranchi gets 6 Pairs
  16. Nagpur gets 6 Pairs

What is the Private Trains Policy?

  • Private participation for operation of passenger train services over 109 Origin Destination(OD) pairs of routes and 151 modern rakes
  • The 109 OD Pairs have been formed into 12 Clusters across the Indian Railway network. Each Train shall have a minimum of 16 coaches.
  • Trains shall be designed for a maximum speed of 160 kmph. The running time taken by a train shall be comparable to or faster than the fastest train of Indian Railways operating in the respective route.
  • The Private Entity shall pay to Indian Railways fixed haulage charges, energy charges as per actual consumption and a share in Gross Revenue determined through a transparent bidding process.
  • These trains shall be operated by the Driver and Guard of Indian Railways.
  • The Concession Period for the project shall be 35 years.
  • The project would entail private sector investment of about Rs 30,000 crore. This is the first initiative of private investment for running Passenger Trains over Indian Railways network
  • Majority of Trains to be manufactured in India (Make in India). The private entity shall be responsible for financing, procuring, operation and maintenance of the trains.

Why Private Trains are a major reform move?

  1. Low Quality of Service on Indian Railways Trains

In a report published on TOI about a cleanliness survey in 2018, it was found that on Shatabdi Trains, Passenger feedback was 243/1000 on Cleanliness on Toilets. It was 209 on Duronto Trains

On Mouthshut, Indian Railways scores 2.03 out of 5.

In a survey focussed on Vadodara and published on Indian Railways blog in 2015, The scores varied from 2.27 to 3.67

Private Trains Can improve quality of passenger experience

These ratings are also passable ratings, not horrible (except on Toilets and Cleanliness) but not great either (Punctuality is above average but not great).

2. Cross subsidisation of Passenger Services will come down

Last year, the Indian Railways spent Rs 50000 crores on subsidising Passenger services. These subsidies are paid by the Central Government budget or by overcharging higher freight rates. Lower freight rates would reduce cost of business and make India competitive. Private Trains will certainly lead to lesser subsidies. Not all subsidies will go away but many consumers will get subsidy support from the Government and this will over a 5-10 period free up substantial capital for both the Railways and the Centre

India has already started testing passenger Trains

So there are financial, customer satisfaction and business supporting reasons that make this decision extremely critical for the country. This move is extremely risky politically as Railway Unions have already announced that they will oppose this move. But like every modernisation, this too will move ahead, even if slowly.

The only bad news is Trains will start operations only in 2023 which is 3 years away.

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