If there is one thing that is believed to represent the majority population of our country, that is Indian Railways. You would have surely observed that foreigners who visit India usually travel by trains to get to know this country better. Of course they get a proper rustic feel while traveling by trains. But, after taking this experience, they usually do not appreciate India. Not in a way that they disrespect the country but, it’s clear they do not enjoy their train traveling experience. Let’s delve deeper into this.
It’s a fact that our railway stations are not the most hygienic places to be in (although things have improved substantially but still a lot more needs to be done). Being a public place, the railway stations as well as the trains are mostly crowded. And, the vendors of various weird objects (such as peculiar books, toys etc.), beggars and eunuchs who perform without your permission and then ask for money, don’t make it any better. There’s something called customer experience which is negligible in case of Indian railways. Of course, things have improved in last decade but, that’s not enough.
We are telling about all this because, Railways has invited proposals from private companies to run modern private trains on more than 100 routes in India. The process has already been initiated by Southern Railways. The effort is aimed at providing world class facilities and enhanced traveling experience to passengers. The Indian Railways also aims to attract investments to the tune of Rs. 30,000 crores with this.
How Will This Happen?
The railways will shortlist bidders for 109 routes where the private players will handle the train operations. However, the driver and guard will be appointed by railways itself. On behalf of Ministry of Railways, Union Minister Piyush Goyal tweeted this information recently and invited RFQs from private players. He also expressed through his tweet that this will also boost job creation, reduce transit time besides providing enhanced safety and world class facilities to the passengers.
Let’s look at this from a different angle. Per capita income in India is not impressive as compared to developed nations and even some developing nations. With a substantial population earning just enough for mere survival, Indian railways provides a sigh of relief as mode of public transport. That’s the reason government refrains from increasing the tariffs even if the customer experience is compromised to some extent. With privatization being induced, this will change to some extent.
The privatization experiment started last year with the introduction of Tejas express by IRCTC. And, it looks like the results are encouraging which is why Indian Railways has decided to take this to the next level. Indian Railways has also said that it would be the responsibility of the private players to ensure punctuality and maintain quality standards and also, the fare will be decided by them. We can just hope that this move brings innovation in the Indian Railways which is desperately required by them. And, with that if it has a positive financial impact, nothing like it. Let’s hope that it changes the face of Indian Railways forever and it becomes renowned all over the world.
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