Railways says private players running trains can decide their fares. But there’s a catch

Tejas Express | Photo: Commons

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New Delhi: In a major concession to private players, the Indian Railways has decided that there would be no overarching body to regulate tariffs or fares for private trains even as it left open the scope for the creation of such a body in the future.

In a corrigendum issued Wednesday when the Railways met private players for the second pre-bid meeting for the running of private trains, the Railways told the interested players, “There would be no fare regulation and the PTOs (Private Train Operators) shall have autonomy to determine tariffs/fares.”

As far as regulating prices is concerned, the Railways said competition in the market will ensure that the players do not overcharge.

“Indian transportation landscape is quite competitive and there is sufficient competitive tension in the market. PTO(s) are likely to compete with all modes of transport and not likely to operate in a monopolistic environment,” the Railways said.

“Accordingly, though PTO(s) will have autonomy to determine and levy fares, travellers would always have choice for alternative trains/modes of transport. Such competitive tension should address such risk of prohibitive pricing by PTO(s),” it added.

Moreover, the private players will have no control over the Indian Railways’ fares, which it will be free to reduce on its own. “There is no restriction on Indian Railways to reduce its existing fares.”

The Railways is looking for private players to operate passenger train services over 109 routes formed in 12 clusters across its network.

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