The Narendra Modi government has initiated the process of privatising operations of 150 trains and 50 railway stations and is forming a task force to complete the process in a “time-bound” manner.
Niti Aayog chief Amitabh Kant in a letter to Railway Board chairman Vinod Kumar Yadav stated, “As you are already aware that the ministry of railways has also decided to bring in private train operators for passenger train operations and is contemplating to take up 150 trains in the first phase.”
The empowered group will consist of Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs and Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs besides Amitabh Kant and Vinod Kumar.
Kant remarked that the Railways was required to upgrade 400 railway stations into world class stations but very few have been done so far. The process needs to be speeded up and and the target is to privatise at least 50 stations in the first phase, he added.
“I had a detailed discussion with the Minister of Railways wherein it was decided that there is a necessity to take up the matter on priority for at least 50 stations. Considering the recent experience on privatisation of six airports, a similar process for setting up an empowered group of secretaries to drive the process in a time bound manner…” Kant said.
The Indian Railways, in a first step towards privatising train operations, allowed the IRCTC to operate the Lucknow-New Delhi Tejas Express from October 5. A railway official has said that public response to this train has been impressive with trains running on full capacity.
IRCTC has put in place several benefits for the passengers like combination meals, free insurance of up to Rs 25 lakh, and compensation in case of delays.