Indian Railways, working quickly on its 100-day agenda of handing over operations of two of its special trains to the private sector, is set to take a significant step by making the Delhi-Lucknow Tejas Express the first train to be operated by private players.
The decision has been taken despite protests from Railway unions. Railways is also deliberating on a second such route, which too would be within the 500-km distance range. Both the trains will be run on an experimental basis, an official was quoted as saying, while adding that at least one of them will be operational within the next 100 days.
These two trains will be given on an experimental basis and we hope that within the next 100 days, we will be able to run at least one of them. The idea was to identify routes which have low congestion and connect important tourists spots. The second train too will be identified soon.
The Delhi-Lucknow Tejas Express was announced in 2016 but was introduced in the new time table released recently. The highly-awaited train is currently parked at the Anandnagar railway station in Uttar Pradesh and will be handed over to private players after an open bidding process for operationalisation. But, the custody of the trains will be transferred to the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), which will pay for it.
The IRCTC has been asked to finalise a proposal by 10 July and submit it to the Railway Board after a meeting of the Member, Traffic, with officials of the Railways tourism and catering arm on July 4. The body will be handed over two trains to begin with.
In its 100-day plan, the Railway Board had proposed to offer two trains to operators who would be willing to be part of the bidding process for rights to run private passenger day/overnight train sets connecting important cities. The Railways also said that it would float a Request for Proposal (RFP) and a Request for Quote (RFQ) in the next 100 days.