Mumbai suburban railway to get private trains?

Updated: Sep 27, 2019, 13:46 IST | Rajendra B Aklekar

The Railway Ministry has been experimenting with a new plan to involve private players for Indian Railways train operations

Central Railway's AC train is expected to arrive by Diwali
Central Railway's AC train is expected to arrive by Diwali

A private-run local train on Mumbai's rail tracks? The Indian Railways have included Mumbai suburban railway in the list of private train operations, along with other suburban routes of Kolkata, Chennai, and Secunderabad. The Board has also requested officials to discuss potential routes/trains and come up with proposals in the regard at a meeting to be held at the railway board on Friday.

Also Read: See Photos: Western Railway Mumbai gets third AC local train

The idea is a part of the 100-day action plan of the ministry of railways and the meeting will examine operational issues that could arise with such trains and details are to be discussed at a meeting to be held on Friday. The letter dated September 23, 2019, a copy of which is with mid-day, states that zonal railways are required to prepare viable and operationally feasible routes for the introduction.

Railway officials said the expectations from railways are very high and there are numerous plans in the pipeline, but all are at a nascent stage. There is nothing concrete, but yes ideas are being formulated.

The Railway Ministry has been experimenting with a new plan to involve private players for Indian Railways train operations. In this regard, IRCTC had been delegated to manage two train services on tourism-friendly, short-distance routes. Hence, the Lucknow-Delhi Tejas Express is the first private train service which will be operated by IRCTC. Last week, the railways notified that the Delhi-Lucknow Tejas Express will be operational from October 5.

Mumbai-AC-Trains
Mumbai's local AC trains could also be added in the list of private train operations

In a list of sectors released on Tuesday, the Indian Railways have listed out major inter-city and long-distance routes, along with the Mumbai suburban railway. Though there is no clarity on the nature of such trains in a densely saturated railway network, officials said that they could indicate towards the running of the AC local trains.

"The possibility of private sector bringing their own trains is far-fetched as it will prove to be a very expensive affair and the idea might be tried out with the existing AC locals," a former retired railway official said. However, the letter is addressed only to Central Railway and not to Western Railway that has a fleet of five AC locals. The Central Railway's AC train is expected to arrive by Diwali, sources said.

Central Railway chief public relations officer Shivaji Sutar confirmed the development and said Central Railway will work on the idea as matters go ahead.

Also Read: Western Railway to convert its 15-car local into partial AC one

Will IRCTC run it?

While there is no clarity on the nature of operations, the Indian Railways might ask IRCTC itself to run such trains so as to that the dealings and the profits losses remain within the railway's framework and also get haulage charges etc instead of putting money in some private operators' pocket.

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