At a time when there are speculations of privatisation of Indian Railways is making rounds, Tejas Express might be the first train to be operated by private players. The aircraft-like luxury chair car service will run between Lucknow and Delhi.
The move is seen as an indication towards the Indian Railways going ahead with its 100-day agenda of handing over operations of two of its trains to the private sector, despite protests from railway unions.
The Railway Board is deliberating on a second such route, which also would be within the 500-km distance range.
However, a railway board official said that the Delhi-Lucknow route is one of the trains being considered for private operators. "A decision will be taken in about a month's time. The IRCTC is still working out the modalities," the official said.
The Delhi-Lucknow Tejas Express was announced in 2016 and recently included in the new time table. The train, one of the most-awaited trains on the route, is currently parked at the Annandnagar railway station in Uttar Pradesh and will be handed over to private players after an open bidding process for operationalisation.
The custody of the trains will be transferred to the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), which will pay for it, including their lease charges, to the financing arm, IRFC.
"These two trains will be given on an experimental basis and we hope that within the next 100 days, we will be able to run at least one of them. The idea was to identify routes which have low congestion and connect important tourists spots. The second train too will be identified soon," a senior official said.
The Delhi-Lucknow route is currently served by 53 trains but does not have a Rajdhani. The Swarn Shatabdi has the highest demand on this route and takes around 6.30 hours.
The IRCTC, which will be given the two trains to run initially, has been asked to finalise a proposal by July 10 and submit it to the Railway Board after a meeting of the Member, Traffic, with officials of the railways' tourism and the catering arm on July 4.
The proposal of the Railway Board in its 100-day plan was to offer two trains to operators willing to be part of the bidding process for rights to run private passenger day/overnight train sets connecting important cities.
The railways also said that it would float a Request for Proposal (RFP) and a Request for Quote (RFQ) in the next 100 days. The proposal, however, has come under severe criticism from the railway unions, who have threatened large scale protests over the issue.
Tejas Express Number and Schedule Details:
Train number 12585 Lucknow Jn-New Delhi Tejas Express will depart from Lucknow Junction at 6:50 AM and reach New Delhi at 1:35 PM.
While returning, Train number 12586 New Delhi-Lucknow Jn Tejas Express will leave from New Delhi at 3:35 PM and arrive in Lucknow Junction at 10:05 PM. The train will run on all days of the week except Sunday and Thursday.
Is Indian Railways On Privatisation Route? Facts Here!
Meanwhile, many sees Tejas as an indication towards government's plan to privatise the railway. However, it is worth mentioning that Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has recently clarified that there is no plan to privatise the national transporter or its premium trains such as Rajdhani and Shatabdi express.
“Whether it is a fact that Government is planning for privatisation of trains such as Rajdhani and Shatabdi? In what manner Government would control the whimsicality of the private operators and travel fare after privatisation of Railways?” asked Samajwadi Party MP Surendra Singh Nagar in Rajya Sabha.
Responding to Nagar's question, Goyal said, “No plan has been made for privatisation of Rajdhani or Shatabdi trains. There is no plan for privatisation of railways.”
(With PTI Inputs)