Big Setback For Private Trains In India Due To Covid19: How Will Railways Handle This?

The plan to run private passenger trains has been further delayed by the Indian Railways. This time around, citing pandemic situation, the bidders have sought extension of bidding due date for running private trains.

Multiple risks were cited as follows by bidders:

  • High haulage charges
  • Traffic risk
  • Competition from Indian Railways
  • Absence of a regulator etc.

Also, recently special trains with lower fare were run by Indian Railways when there was a high passenger demand that too, within the exclusive booking window time provided to the private train operator.

There have shifts in bid due dates earlier as well starting from January 29, 2021 and financial bids are to be received by June 30.

Shortlisted companies

Following companies are shortlisted for the financial bids:

  • Cube Highways and Infrastructure
  • GMR Highways
  • IRB Infrastructure Developers
  • Megha Engineering & Infrastructures
  • Gateway Rail Freight and Gateway Distriparks
  • Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation
  • Welspun Enterprise

Also in order to lower the risk perception of potential bidders, several contracts have been tweaked by the Railway Ministry, the quantifying the extent of parcel cargo that could be booked in the private passenger trains has been included.

Another potential risk and its solution was explained by another source. He cited huge demands

Explaining another potential danger and its solution, one source said, “Imagine a situation where there is a great need for a particular festival – say Chhat Puja or Kumbh Mela. Indian trains can be forced to run special trains under social and political pressure. In that case, use the train by all means… .But allow licensors to reserve the right to book all passenger tickets (including Indian Railways) at that special time window. This access to ticket price data will ensure IR’s ‘low prices’. “

Global parallel

Also reasons like lower travel demand due to the pandemic is one of reasons cited by UK’s William Shappes plan where it proposes to move away from its present privatised structure.

The UK Department for Transport has submitted a report to Great Britain Railways in which it proposed “major rail changes over the next 25 years, eliminating divisions of past practices and making the network under one national leadership. The new public body, the Great British Railways, will own the infrastructure, earn a ride, run and set up a network and set up fares and multiple tables. Network Rail, which currently owns the infrastructure, will join the new organization, as well as a number of activities from the Rail Delivery Group and the Department of Transport ”.

“We want our trains to run on time. This is our plan to do that, and to bring about a radical change in our railways that has never been much needed, ”said the report, which was set up to review the sector after problems with railway companies and driver failures. The report revealed that he was facing something very serious – almost a complete collapse of passenger demand at first, and a major challenge to the sector’s performance model as a result of the Covid-19 epidemic. “Before the epidemic…. about two-thirds of passengers have been using the railway for purposes now facing a permanent change. Much of the old demand will return. Employers and businesses know that intelligence, collaboration and contracting are best done in person… ..But walking and doing business may not be the same, ”she said.

The report adds: “This government strongly believes in the future of the railway. Without them, our cities would not function, cut-offs would be cut off, carbon emissions and air pollution would increase, and traffic would be reduced – not just for the millions of people who do not have cars, but also for drivers, as roads are blocked. We have demonstrated our commitment: the amount we have paid to keep services running during the epidemic is now around £ 12 billion. ”

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