After the Delhi-Lucknow Tejas Express, the railways has decided to hand over the operations of the Ahmedabad-Mumbai Central Tejas Express to its subsidiary, IRCTC, as a test case, ahead of the implementation of its plan to rope in private players in the running of certain trains, sources said on Tuesday.
The IRCTC, the railways’ tourism and catering arm, will also have the flexibility to decide the passenger fare on these trains — Ahmedabad-Mumbai Central Tejas Express and the Delhi-Lucknow Tejas Express, the sources added.
According to a blueprint prepared by the Railway Board to hand over the two trains to the railways’ tourism and catering arm for a period of three years as a pilot project, no concessions, privileges or duty passes will be allowed on these trains.
The railways also said on-board ticket checking on IRCTC trains will not be done by the railway staff.
However, it said the trains will be uniquely numbered and operated by the railways’ operating staff — loco, pilots, guards and station masters. The services of these two trains will be at par with the Shatabdi Express trains and given a similar priority, the sources said.
Bringing in private train operators to provide world-class passenger service was a proposal mooted by the railways in its 100-day plan. Sources said handing over the two Tejas Express trains to IRCTC was a first step towards that.
IRCTC will have the rights for advertisements inside and outside the coaches, including branding of the trains. It can also make modifications inside the rake without affecting its structural safety.
IRCTC will be allowed to use the railways’ web portal for ticketing for a year and the revenue accounts of these two trains would be maintained separately, the sources said. The Railway Board has instructed IRCTC to develop its own ticketing system simultaneously.
The trains will have 18 coaches each. However, IRCTC will be allowed to run the trains with a minimum of 12 coaches for a period of one year. The haulage charges would be calculated per trip, based on the number of coaches used on each trip or 12 coaches, whichever is higher.
IRCTC will also pay for the custody of trains, including spares.
The Railway Board has, however, clarified that in case of any accident, the IRCTC passengers will be treated at par with railway passengers and will be eligible for accident-related claims. It will also provide assistance and restoration in case of an accident.
The railways will also provide maintenance for the trains.