The Railway Board has started working on the blueprint as approved by the Niti Aayog to invite private passenger train operators in view of the proposal in Union Budget. Out of 150 private passenger trains proposed in the first phase, 15 of them have been identified to run on different routes from Bihar under the jurisdiction of East Central Railway (ECR).
According to a Board official, senior railway officials have been assigned the task to work out on the project and finalise the pre-bidding formalities to pave way for running high-speed private passenger trains in different zonal railways, including the ECR. Several private operators from abroad, including the US, Canada and France, have evinced interests in this project, he said, adding a few business tycoons in the country are also keen to compete at the pre-bidding stage with foreign operators.
According to sources, the 15 routes identified in Bihar to run private passenger trains are Darbhanga-Aannd Vihar (biweekly), Bhagalpur-Anand Vihar (weekly), Gaya-Anand Vihar (triweekly), Patna-New Delhi (daily), Darbhanga-Jogeshwari (weekly), Patliputra–Byappanahali, Bengaluru (five days a week), Katihar–Tilak Bridge (weekly), Kisanganj-Tilak Bridge (weekly), Barauni– Anand Vihar (biweekly), Patna–Howrah (daily), Chhapra-Anand Vihar (biweekly), Patna-Hadapsar, Pune (weekly), Patna-Udhna, Surat (weekly), Patna-Panvel, Mumbai (weekly) and Danapur-Indore (weekly), sources said.
Railways has fixed Rs668 per train kilometre as haulage charge, which includes terminal cost, traction, transportation, track maintenance, signalling and overheads cost. Besides, railways is likely to make an indicative investment of Rs 22,500 crore for a period of 35 years for running about 150 private passenger trains on different zonal railway routes, a Board official said.
According to ECR’s chief public relations officer (CPRO) Rajesh Kumar, the new experiment is likely to boost railways’ economy as well as give much relief to people who are keen to travel fast by trains on the pattern of aeroplanes. Under the proposed terms and conditions, railways has fixed Rs 25 lakh as compensation to each victim in an accident with a provision to pay compensation of Rs100 for late running of those trains by an hour and Rs 250 for late arrival of trains at the destination points by two hours, he said, adding private operators will pay a fine of Rs 1 lakh in case of passengers’ luggage lifting from the running coach during journey.