Indian Railway unions plan nationwide stir over privatisation

Updated: Jul 28, 2020, 07:42 IST | Rajendra B Aklekar | Mumbai

Country's largest railway union issues statement asking railwaymen to lodge protests against government handing over trains to corporate companies

Poster issued by AIRF for the August 9 protest
Poster issued by AIRF for the August 9 protest

Indian Railways' (IR) trade unions have threatened to launch protests of national scale against railways' plan to privatise a few trains on Quit India Day (August 9) echoing the sentiments of Mahatma Gandhi's movement.

Railway Board Chairman Vinod Kumar Yadav had said that the specially manufactured first private train will be flagged off by 2023. However, country's largest railway union, All India Railwaymen's Federation (AIRF) has issued a statement asking railwaymen across the country to lodge protests against government handing over trains to corporate companies and inviting private players'.

"We can shut down all trains if required, but we are not here to shut railways. We are there to run them and we care for all the poor citizens, their families. This is a humble appeal from the bottom of the heart that we should not allow the government to privatise railways," Venu P Nair, general secretary of National Railway Mazdoor Union (NRMU), said.

"Mahatma Gandhiji asked the Britishers to Quit India on August 9, 1942. This year, we will ask IR to quit from bidding trains by corporate companies on behalf of 135 crore Indian citizens," AIRF General Secretary Shiva Gopal Mishra said.

Seeking private investment of about R30,000 crore, IR has invited bids from private companies for running passenger trains on 109 pairs (origin-destination) of routes. Of the 109 pair routes, Mumbai has two clusters with around 40 popular routes. While there are 16 routes in the first cluster, there are 24 routes in the second. Mumbai's key routes include Mumbai to Gulbarga, Nagpur, Shirdi, Howrah, Varanasi, Madgaon, Nandurbar, Ahmedabad, Patna, New Delhi and more.

The concession period for the project shall be 35 years and the private firms will be responsible for financing, procuring, operation and maintenance of trains. A pre-application conference on the project was held by the IR on July 21 which was attended by around 16 prospective applicants.

Rs 30K cr
Total amount of investment IR is seeking via privatisation

109
Total no. of routes pvt companies can own

40
Total no. of routes Mumbai will have

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