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RSTV – THE BIG PICTURE ANALYSIS
Changing Indian Railways
The Topic covers GS paper 3 [Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.]
Private train operations in the country will begin by April 2023, and the ticket fares in these trains will be competitive with airfares on similar routes, the Railways said.
Addressing a press conference online, 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.
His statement came a day after the Railways formally kickstarted its plans to allow private entities to operate passenger trains on its network by inviting requests for qualification (RFQ) for participation on 109 routes through 151 modern trains.
What is the background?
A few days ago, the national transporter invited a request for qualification application from interested parties for operation of the private trains across the Country.
The railways has proposed to operate 151 trains in 109 routes.
The private companies will be allowed to fix the fare for 35 years.
Though railways hasn’t increased the ticket fares for more than a decade, it has registered higher revenue in passenger ticketing through ‘backdoor’ tactics such as introduction of surge pricing, introduction of premier trains, suvidha trains and increasing the AC class berths and seats in existing trains.
Why was this introduced?
No private company would be interested to operate trains on uneconomic routes.
So high demanding routes have been earmarked for private trains.
The revenue earned from the highly demanding routes helps railways to operate passenger trains in uneconomic routes.
Now additional earnings through suvidha and other premier trains will go to private players thereby forcing railways to cancel less patronised trains.
What is the significance?
ailway trains on the same routes may lead to malpractice and corruption, pointed out by many rail passengers.
The Chennai-Coimbatore Kovai Express, which remained one of fastest trains covering 495 km distance within six hours and ten minutes, until 2010 has lost its shine after introduction of Coimbatore-Chennai Duronto Express in 2011.
The Duronto express which later converted into Shatabdi Express with the additional stoppages has been given precedence over Kovai Express, resulting in increasing the travel time to more than 7 hours.
The move would enhance the passengers' services in trains, besides helping the railways to increase its earnings.
Tamil Nadu Southern Districts Train Passengers Association said that railways earnings are hard hit due to the expenses incurred on the establishment and less ticket earnings.
Railway believes that it's work force is not competent enough to enhance the system with innovative ideas. Private participation in railways started with the launch of IRCTC in 1999 itself. Now the railways are going for open bidding, instead of closed one. There should be sufficient checks and balances ensuring that private players are not given any undue advantages in demanded routes. It may be too early to comment on enhancing the rail tracks for withstanding the speed of 160 kmph. The existing trains should first run at 130 kmph.