Buoyed by the successful run of two trains on a special fare structure, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) will be operating a third train from next week between Indore and Varanasi.
Sources say that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to flag off the Humsafar service, named as ‘Kashi Mahakal Express’, with state-of-the-art facilities on February 16 from Varanasi with much fanfare. The overnight train will cater to the increased demand of the passengers connecting Lucknow, Kanpur, Bina, Bhopal and Ujjain along the busy routes.
IRCTC, a railways PSU, is currently operating two Tejas service between New Delhi-Lucknow and Mumbai-Ahmedabad. On these trains, passengers have to pay 20% to 30% more than the regular service as the fare is determined through dynamic fare system.
Though IRCTC-run trains cannot strictly be described as a privately-operated train, since the PSU is under the administrative control of the Indian Railways, it is widely perceived as a pilot run before 150 trains are allowed to be run by players from the private sector.
While IRCTC decides the fare structure and is responsible for providing on-board amenities – including catering, the safety. Security entailing the signaling system, loco drivers, platform and stations are with the Railways.
According to the mutually agreed arrangement, IRCTC will pay about Rs 1000 per km as haulage charge to the Railways for availing the railway system, including trains and infrastructure.
Started last month, the Mumbai Tejas Express is running with full occupancy and the revenue collection is ranging between Rs 11.1 lakh and Rs 11.5 lakh per day.