Railways Will Sell, Lease Rail Coaches To Private Firms For Theme-Based Tours!

Privatization of Railways has been in the news for a while now. Even though privatization is not in full swing, the government is trying to push private enterprises using various schemes. One such scheme that the government is preparing for is selling/leasing rail coaches for theme-based tours.

Private theme-based railway tours might soon be a reality  

As per a policy being formulated by the Indian Railways, private parties will soon be able to lease and buy railway coaches to run theme-based cultural, religious, and other tourist circuit trains.

In a release, the railways confirmed that an executive director-level committee has been constituted by the Ministry of Railways to formulate the policy and terms and conditions of the project.

The press release read, “To tap the potential of the tourism sector and to leverage the core strengths of the professionals of the tourism sector in tourism activities like marketing, hospitality, integration of services, reach with the customer base, expertise in development/identification of tourist circuits, etc., Indian Railways is planning to spread rail-based tourism among masses through leasing of coaching stock to interested parties to run them as theme-based cultural, religious and other tourist circuit trains.”

The ministry is given a lot of freedom to interested parties. As per the notification, coaches may be leased as per the desired configuration of interested parties. Bare shells may also be taken on lease. Outright purchase of coaches can also be done.

Railways is looking at a new business model

The only major condition the ministry has put forward is that the interested parties have to buy or lease a train with a minimum of 16 coaches. The proposed model will allow private parties to conduct minor refurbishment of coaches and leasing of coaches for a minimum period of 5 years and extendable till the life of coaches.

The interested party has been given the freedom to develop or decide on the business model (routes, itinerary, tariff).

The Indian Railways will make money by levying haulage charges, nominal stabling charges, and lease charges (No lease charges for outright purchase). Also, there will be no haulage for maintenance runs, third-party advertising will be allowed inside trains, and branding of trains will also be permitted.

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