Passengers travelling by Tejas Express trains on the Delhi-Lucknow and Mumbai-Ahmedabad routes can now enjoy facilities including hotel bookings, taxi and baggage pick-and-drop among others. The service is being offered by the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC).
Apart from these, the IRCTC, an Indian Railway subsidiary, would also provide wheelchair services to the needy, Railway Board Chairman V K Yadav told reporters on Monday in New Delhi. This is for the first time IRCTC is offering such services to its customers, Yadav said.
"The IRCTC has come up with so many things. They can provide food of your choice, provide taxi facility from house to the station and station to the house, baggage services like picking up baggage from home to station, entertainment services, provide wheelchair. They are free to do anything," the Railway Board Chairman told media.
The Railway Board chairman further said the railways would soon invite private companies to operate trains in the near future. He said just like airport is run by the Airport Authority of India (AAI) and different aviation companies run their flights on its premises in different segments, under set procedures, similarly, all over the world private train companies will operate in the same way.
"It will take time but we have decided that we will work towards this. We have started talking to stakeholders and a lot of companies have shown interest. The Indian Railway will continue to run the trains, but at some point of time we will have to give them to private operators where they will provide services. Just to prove the concept we have already approved two trains to be given to IRCTC," Yadav said.
Safety will be under the purview of the railways, the Railway Board chairman said, adding that "locomotives and guards will be with the railways, but all on board services will be with the train operator which in this case is IRCTC."
Yadav also said at some point the railways will also have a fare regulator who, if required will not only cap fares, but also decide on route allocation and security issues. IRCTC has been allowed to fix fares of these two trains, he said.
Yadav added that the initiative is part of three-year pilot project and a blueprint prepared the Railway Board to handover the two trains to the IRCTC has already been readied. The services of these two trains will be at par with Shatabdi Express trains and will be given a similar priority, Railway Board Chairman added.