Niti Aayog and the Indian Railways have come out with a discussion paper for running 150 trains on 100 routes by private operators, envisaging an investment of ₹ 22,500 crore. The discussion paper titled ‘Private Participation: Passenger Trains’ has identified 100 routes, including Mumbai Central-New Delhi, New Delhi- Patna, Allahabad-Pune and Dadar-Vadodara. Other prominent routes include Howrah-Chennai, Howrah Patna, Indore-Okhla, Lucknow-Jammu Tawi, Chennai-Okhla, Anand Vihar-Bhagalpur, Secunderabad-Guwahati and Howrah-Anand Vihar. The paper, prepared for discussions with stakeholders, has split the 100 routes into 10-12 clusters. The plan is to move in swiftly with the panel headed by NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant suggesting that the first train can be rolled out within six months of the award, with 35-year contracts to be awarded to entities offering to pay the highest revenue share.
As per the paper, the private operator will have the right to collect market-linked fares and will be provided flexibility of class composition and halts. The privatisation of train operation, the paper said, will help in introducing modern technology and rolling stocks with reduced maintenance. Besides, it would provide world-class service experience to passengers and also help in reducing the supply demand deficit. The operators could be domestic or international entities, the paper said. Each bidder would eligible for award of maximum three clusters, it added.