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Private Trains on Indian Railways: Here is what's in it for Barak Valley

What can be a big leap towards Prime Minister’s New India, Piyush Goyal led Indian Railways has invited Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for private participation for the operation of passenger train services over 109 Origin-Destination (OD) pairs of routes through the introduction of 151 modern Trains (Rakes). This will also be the first initiative of private investment for running Passenger Trains over the Indian Railways network.

Once operationalized, with over 150 modern trains, Indian Railways passengers can certainly look forward to faster, more comfortable, and time-efficient travel experience in the coming years.

According to Indian Railways, the 109 pairs of routes have been formed into 12 clusters that will cover major parts of the Indian Railways network. The aim of the project is to upgrade passenger experience on the railway network to world-class standards, with modern train rakes, most of which will be manufactured in the country under the ‘Make in India’ initiative.

Addressing a press conference on Thursday, Railway Board Chairman V K Yadav said that private players in passenger train operations will mean a quantum jump in technology and coaches that run at higher speeds. The improvement in technology will also mean that the coaches that now require maintenance after running 4,000 km, will need maintenance after every 40,000-km, that is either once or twice a month, he said

“Train sets have to be brought by private operators and maintained by them. Private train operations are likely to begin by April 2023, all coaches will be procured under Make in India policy. Fares in private trains will be competitive and prices on other modes of transport like airlines, buses will have to be kept in mind,” he added.

Agartala Karimganj Route on List

What can be good news for the Barak Valley residents, the list also included Karimganj Agartala route. According to the Tender Document, a weekly train between Karimganj and Agartala has been proposed. The document notes the train to depart from Agartala on 23:50 hours of Friday and reach Karimganj by next day 4:00 hrs. After a brief halt of 3hrs, it will depart back at 7:00 hours to reach Agartala by 10:45 hours. The train will cover a total distance of 205 km.
The Agartala Karimganj Origin Destination pair has been kept under Cluster 8 (Prayagraj) of the tender document.

Private trains on Indian Railways: Important facts

The private entity shall be responsible for financing, procuring, operation, and maintenance of the trains, that will be manufactured under “Make In India’ initiative.

Trains shall be designed for a maximum speed of 160 kmph followed by a substantial reduction in journey time. 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 objective of this Private Player initiative is to introduce modern technology rolling stock with reduced maintenance, reduced transit time, boost job creation, provide enhanced safety, provide world-class travel experience to passengers, and also reduce demand-supply deficit in the passenger transportation sector.

The Concession Period for the project shall be 35 years. 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.

The operation of the trains by the private entity shall conform to the key performance indicators like punctuality, reliability, upkeep of trains etc. The trains will be operated by the Driver and Guard of Indian Railways.

Operation and maintenance of the passenger trains would be governed by standards & specifications and requirements specified by Indian Railways.

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