If all goes according to plan, you might be able to travel in privately-run passenger trains on the Indian Railways, sometime in the near future. The Union Ministry of Railways recently invited &lsquoRequest for Qualifications&rsquo (RFQ) from private players who are willing to join this new plan floated by the department. The bids will be opened in September. As of now, it has been proposed to have 27 new Services from Mumbai, 25 from Delhi, 8 from Bengaluru, 10 from Chennai, 6 from Hyderabad with more on the anvil.
To start with, private operators have been provided with a choice of running passenger trains over 109 Origin Destination (OD) pairs of routes arranged in 12 clusters, according to a press release by the ministry. However, the ministry has also clarified that regular trains on same routes will also continue to run.
There will be 151 modern trains (rakes) allotted for the project with each train designed for a maximum speed of 160 kmph and having minimum 16 coaches. The private entity will be responsible for financing, procuring, operation and maintenance of the trains but will be governed by specifications and requirements as laid out by the Indian Railways. A driver and guard of the Indian Railways will be appointed for the operation of these trains.
The history of Indian Railways goes back to over 165 years, when the first train ran between Bori Bunder (in Mumbai) and Thane in 1853, covering a distance of 35km. Ever since, the Indian Railways has been closely responsible for and the reflection of the country&rsquos progress. However, this bid to introduce private trains is a first for the Indian Railways, India did have private trains in the past. For example, the now shut Martin&rsquos Light Railway, which was operated by the British owned Martin & Co.