Noting that private investment in passenger services will lead to “public good”, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal on Tuesday said that passengers should have the choice to be able to use superior services at competitive prices and underlined that investment in public-private partnership mode will generate employment in India.
He said Railways is the property of people of India, belongs to people of India.
“But certainly to improve services to our customers both for freight and passenger to give better comfortable journeys, efficiency, high speeds and to meet the needs of large amount of infrastructure spending that Railway requires, we will certainly be looking at public-private partnership and greater engagement with the private sector to superimpose or leverage facilities that already available with us and give passengers and our freight customers and to all our stakeholders a very good comfortable, seamless and efficient high-quality service,” the minister said.
Ministry of Railways earlier this month invited Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for private participation for the operation of passenger train services over 109 Origin-Destination(OD) pairs of routes through the introduction of 151 modern Trains (rakes).
Speaking at the India Foundation Dialogue 70 via video conference, Goyal said the competition will be able to improve Railway service and Railways will also earn revenue.
“Concept of private trains is simple. Indian Railways is a national asset. Passenger should have the choice to be able to use a superior service at competitive prices if it is available. Look at the airline story, there was only one airline- one international and one Indian. The movement the others came in, there was price competition so prices came down in airlines and there was services competition so services improved,” Mr Goyal said.
“Similarly, our hope is that competition will be able to improve Railways” service also as well as giving passengers a choice. Railways will also earn revenue on the paths we allow private trains to run. Private trains are expected to be much faster, there are expected to be more modern coaches and bringing better technology to India, jobs to India when these coaches are Made in India because except for the first few, we are going to insist that they all should be Made in India,” he added.
The minister said it is a very holistic plan.
“Railways have a plan to invest Rs 50 lakh crore in the next twelve months… We are looking at public-private partnership bringing more efficiency into the system and serve the passengers and our people including the freight.”
The minister said that Railways will give licenses for operating private trains and maintain high standards.
“Railways will give licences and we will obviously keep our eyes and ears open and maintain high-quality standards. It is part of RFQ what quality standards, what speed and time have to be maintained. If we find any wrongdoing, Railway reserves the right to ensure orderly behaviour. We can also look at a regulator. Private trains will run for the public good because the competition is always good for you. That is the reason behind inviting investment in public-private mode,” he said.