On Monday, sources have confirmed that the Delhi-Lucknow Tejas Express will be the very first train that will be operated by a private company. This move clearly shows that Indian railways are going ahead with its 100 days agenda of handing over the operations of two of its trains to the private sector against the opposition of the unions. The Railway Board is preparing a second route which will also be within the 500-km distance range.
According to one of the railway board officials, the Delhi-Lucknow Express will be one of the trains that will be handled by the private sector. The decision is to be taken within a month as IRCTC is still working on the modalities.
The Delhi-Lucknow Tejas Express though announced in 2016, was recently added to the new time table.
The train is currently stationed at the Annandnagar railway station in Uttar Pradesh and will be given to the private sector after an open bidding process for operationalisation.
The custody of the trains will be transferred to the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), which will pay for it, including their lease charges, to the financing arm, IRFC.
A senior official said that these two trains will be given on a trial and error basis and hoped that the private sector can run at least one of them within the next 100 days. The aim behind this was to identify routes that would connect major tourism spots and also have less congestion. The second train will be identified soon.
Though the Delhi-Lucknow route has at least 53 trains, it does not have any Rajdhani. The fastest train on this route, Swarn Shatabdi, takes around 6.30 hours and is high on demand.
Initially, IRCTC will be given the two trains to run. IRCTC has been asked to finalise a proposal by July 10 and submit it to the Railway Board after a meeting of the Member, Traffic, with officials of the railways’ tourism and the catering arm on July 4.
In the proposal given by the Railway Board, the 100 days plan was to offer two trains to operators who are willing to participate in the bidding process for the rights to run private passenger day/overnight train sets connecting important cities.
Within the next 100 days, the railways will declare a Request for Proposal (RFP) and a Request for Quote (RFQ). The proposal has not been happily accepted by the railway unions who have threatened large scale protests over the issue.