New Delhi, Sept 10: A regulator will be placed by Indian Railways who will be in charge of fixing a cap on fares of trains to be run by private players which would prevent a sudden spurt in prices especially during festive seasons.
“It will take some time to bring in private players to run trains. We will have the regulator, which will deal with fare, allocation of routes and safety. The trains and routes will be allotted through a transparent bidding process,” railway board chairman V K Yadav told TOI.
V K Yadav said that private players will be allowed to run run trains when existing major train routes are decongested with the shifting of 90% freight trains to the dedicated freight corridors.
The Eastern and Western Dedicated Freight Corridor will be operational by December 2021, Yadav claimed.
While, the Delhi-Lucknow Tejas Express is set to be the first train to be run by private players and is expected to start operation before October 15.
The Railways is going ahead with its 100-day agenda of handing over operations of two of its trains to the private sector, despite protests from its unions.
The Railway Board is deliberating on a second such route, which too would be within the 500-km distance range.
The Delhi-Lucknow Tejas Express was announced in 2016 but was introduced in the new time table released recently.
The train, one of the most-awaited trains on the route, is currently parked at the Annandnagar railway station in Uttar Pradesh and will be handed over to private players after an open bidding process for operationalisation.
However, the custody of the trains will be transferred to the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), which will pay for it, including their lease charges, to the financing arm, IRFC.
"These two trains will be given on an experimental basis and we hope that within the next 100 days, we will be able to run at least one of them. The idea was to identify routes which have low congestion and connect important tourists spots. The second tain too will be identified soon," a senior official said.
The Delhi-Lucknow route is currently served by 53 trains but does not have a Rajdhani. The Swarn Shatabdi has the highest demand on this route and takes around 6:30 hours.
The railway board chairman also said that they will start e-catering service on trains and at platforms in the next two months, which will allow people to order food in trains and at stations.
News24 Bureau with Agencies
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