Indian Railways has picked 100 routes to run 150 private passenger train rakes and bids for the routes are likely to be invited next month, a senior railway official has told ET Magazine.
With finance ministry’s Public Private Partnership Appraisal Committee (PPPAC) giving in-principal nod to the proposal on December 19, the path has been cleared for the railways to roll out its reform in engaging private operators, ending its long monopoly in running passenger trains.
The official, who did not want to be named, said the major long-distance routes identified for bidding include Mumbai-Kolkata, Mumbai-Chennai, Mumbai-Guwahati, New Delhi-Mumbai, Thiruvananthapuram-Guwahati, New Delhi-Kolkata, New Delhi-Bengaluru, New Delhi-Chennai, Kolkata-Chennai and Chennai-Jodhpur.
Other prominent routes include Mumbai-Varanasi, Mumbai-Pune, Mumbai-Lucknow, Mumbai-Nagpur, Nagpur-Pune, Secunderabad-Visakhapatnam, Patna-Bengaluru, Pune-Patna, Chennai-Coimbatore, Chennai-Secunderabad, Surat-Varanasi and Bhubaneswar-Kolkata. Some routes connecting New Delhi to Patna, Allahabad, Amritsar, Chandigarh, Katra, Gorakhpur, Chhapra and Bhagalpur have also been selected.
Commercial viability seems to be the key yardstick in picking the routes. Thirty-five of the 100 routes will connect to New Delhi, 26 to Mumbai, 12 to Kolkata, 11 to Chennai and eight to Bengaluru, all metropolitan cities.