New Delhi: In a bid to provide better amenities and facilities to passengers, the government is planning to invite private players to run trains, sources told Zee Media.
The Ministry of Railways is planning to invite the private players through ticketing arm Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), to run the trains.
As per the plan, Railways will give some trains to the IRCTC to run, which in turn will return some portion of earnings or revenue to the Railways, sources said.
IRCTC will invite private players through bidding process – mostly in the lines or routes that connect tourist spots.
The private partnership will also be sought for freight trains, other than passenger trains, sources added. The idea behind inviting private players is to ensure world class facilities to the passengers while it will also improve the overall quality of commercial trains.
It is expected that the government may invite private players in a phased manner for running premium trains and begin with floating tenders for Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains. However, the exact framework for this has not been prepared. The government has fixed a target of 100 days to come up with a final plan on this.
Railways sources further said that premium trains like Rajdhani and Shatabdi are running in profit and hence private players will be keen to undertake their operations.
The Railways has also set the target to make all the stations fully wi-fi equipped by the end of this year.
Ever since the Narendra Modi-led NDA government came to power in 2014, there has been a lot of talks on private investments in the Railways. The move has however faced stiff opposition from several Railway unions, who represent close to 20 lakh employees of the state-run transporter.
But the Modi government has several times tried to allay the fear concerning Railway privatisation by saying that the government wants to get private participation but that does not mean it wants to privatise railway's operations.