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Privatisation of Railways is ‘win-win’ situation: NITI Aayog CEO

Sept. 17, 2020, 7:50 p.m.

New Delhi: NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant on Thursday asserted that privatisation of the Railways will create a “win-win” situation for the Railways as well as the investors and also the users.

Addressing a press conference here along with the Indian Railways’ first CEO V.K. Yadav, Kant said, “The plans of privatisation of the trains brings first-of-its-kind initiative in country where private entities will source and operate modern technology trains for undertaking passenger business, using Indian Railways’ infrastructure.”

The NITI Aayog CEO said, “This creates a win-win situation for Indian Railways as well as investors, by tapping into the potential of huge unmet demand in passenger business.”

Kant was speaking on the Railways’ plans of Public-Private Partnership in passenger train operations. He further asserted that the Railways is looking at 109 origin-destination pairs, divided into 12 clusters requiring 151 trains.

“They are being taken up for transparent competitive bidding and some most attractive routes, based on huge unmet demand, will be put out to run premium passenger services,” Kant said. He also asserted that “we are looking at about Rs 30,000 crore of private sector investment.”

Citing the examples of the private banks in India, Kant said that “It is like when private banks were set up in India.” He said so many private players came in the banking sector but that didn’t lead to SBI shutting down.

“Private investment will bring in newer technologies. It will create competition in the railway sector. Competition will increase efficiency and reduce fares in the long run,” Kant added.

To a question over airport-like user charge to be levied for redeveloped railway stations, Yadav said the charge will be nominal. “The user charge will be nominal. Also, the charge will be applicable only for redeveloped stations. Not all stations are being redeveloped at present,” Yadav said.

On the issue of private players being able to determine their own fares as it has been decided by the Indian Railways, the Railways CEO said as there will be competition from bus fares and air fares, private players will, under no circumstances, charge exorbitant fares.

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