A high-level committee on railway restructuring, headed by NITI Aayog member and noted economist Bibek Debroy has suggested allowing private players to run passenger trains, in a move that would alter the way passengers are catered to at present.
The panel, set up to recommend ways of restructuring Indian Railways, also recommends scrapping of a separate Rail Budget. The committee will submit its detailed report to the government today.
''Once the changes of the first five years are implemented, including the resolution of the social costs issue, the Railway Budget should be phased out,'' newspaper reports citing the report said.
In its interim report, released in April this year, the Debroy committee had suggested ways of restructuring and modernising the Railways.
Employee unions, including the All-India Railwaymen Federation (AIRF) and the National Federation of Indian Railwaymen (NFIR), had severely criticised the move on technical grounds.
They had opposed the idea of allowing entry of private players in freight and passenger operations, formation of a regulatory authority and revamping the Railway Board by bifurcating it.
The Railways has proposed to introduce three types of `Suvidha Trains', effective 1 July 215, which include:
- Fully air-conditioned services with or without stoppages with base price of Rajdhani base fare+Tatkal charges;
- Mixed services having no en route commercial stoppages on mixed `Durante' pattern with a base price that is a mix of Durante base fare+ Total charges; and
- For mixed services having some stoppages en route and running as mail / express trains with base price equivalent to mail / express base fare+Tatkal charges.
In addition, if demand arises, zonal railways may also plan for fully air-conditioned Shatabdi / double-decker type Suvidha Trains with fare of similar nature.
Suvidha trains will run on dynamic fare system. The permissible booking pattern and charges thereon of Suvidha Trains will be:
For both AC classes and non AC- classes the charges will go up from base fare plus Tatkal charges to 1.5 times, 2 times, 2.5 times and 3 times the base fare plus Tatkal rate, depending on demand. Booking of seats/berth will cost an additional 20 per cent.
Other charges like reservation charge, catering charge, S/F, service tax, etc will be taken in full wherever applicable.
Vacant berths left at the time of charting will be offered for current booking counters. Tickets at current counters will be sold at the last price sold for that class and other supplementary charges like reservation fee, superfast charges, catering charges, service tax applicable shall be levied in full.
The information would also be displayed to the passenger during the booking in case the fare of lower class becomes higher than the higher class to exercise option to travel by the higher class.
There shall be no downward movement in the fare.
50 per cent refund of fare subject to minimum flat cancellation charge of Rs100 for air-conditioned-II tier/first class, Rs90 for airconditioned III-tier/3 economy/air-conditioned chair car and Rd60 for sleeper class will be granted for confirmed/RAC tickets up to 6 hours before the scheduled departure of the train.
No refund of fare after that will be granted. Such refund will be granted by filing TDR in case of e-tickets and in case of PRS counter-ticket across the counter.
The Suvidha train services will be over and above the normal train services and special trains on Tatkal fares.
These guidelines will be implemented from 1 July 2015.