Privatisation move in Indian Railways! 150 trains, 50 railway stations to be privatised
The Railway Ministry has decided to bring in private operators to run passenger trains and is also contemplating to take up as many as 150 trains and 50 railway stations in the first phase. The Modi government is currently in the process of forming a task force to draw a blueprint for handing over operations of as many as 150 trains and a total of 50 railway stations to private operators. The Indian Railways trains and railways stations are likely to be handed over to private players in a time-bound manner. Niti Aayog chief Amitabh Kant in a letter to Railway Board chairman Vinod Kumar Yadav stated,” As you are already aware that the ministry of railways has also decided to bring in private operators for passenger train operations and is contemplating to take up 150 trains in the first phase.” Other than Yadav and Kant, the Secretary of Department of Economic Affairs and Secretary under the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs will also be a part of the empowered group. Perturbed over the slow progress of the Indian Railways’ station redevelopment work, the NITI Aayog has sought the formation of an ‘empowered group of secretaries’ to push forward the Rs 1 lakh crore project. The Narendra Modi government’s goal of redeveloping 400 stations is an ambitious mega railway project involving the expenditure of over Rs 1 lakh crore. It envisages opening shopping plazas, office complexes, hotels, multiplexes and parking lots on rail land, as well as other commercial activities. The project also involves making provisions for improved passenger amenities at stations. The initiative, however, has failed to take-off in recent times, even after the Centre increased the lease period from 45 years to 99 years in order to attract major real estate players. It appears that the NITI Ayog also wants the empowered group to take over the reins on driving private train operations. The move to privatise train operations, a potentially bold move by the government, was included in the 100-day action plan of the national transporter. As per the plan, about 150 trains at an estimated cost of Rs 22,500 crore would be offered to private players for running passenger trains on 50 high-demand routes. While the Railways aims to earn about Rs 50,000 crore over the next 10 years from the commercialisation of rail land near stations, the ambitious project is expected to involve the expenditure of over Rs 1 lakh crore – Rs 80,000 crore in commercial exploitation and Rs 35,000 crore in station redevelopment. It has allowed joint ventures with states, public sector participation, public-private partnership (PPP), and the engineering, procurement, construction (EPC) models as well. Other agencies, such as the Indian Railway Stations Development Corporation Ltd (IRSDC), have also been roped in to carry out the station redevelopment exercise. Since the railway is losing money on its passenger services business, it wants to transfer some operations over to the private sector. Concluding his letter, Kant says, “It is requested that the matter be considered suitable and necessary orders of the Railway Minister may be taken.” Get Breaking news and Latest News from India and around the world on GlobalPunjabTV.in. Like us on Facebook for news updates.