To promote and attract tourism businesses, Indian Tuesday Railways launched Bharat Gaurav trains which will be operated by private actors and will take place on thematic circuits. Through this policy, which gives operators the “right to use” its rakes and infrastructure, the railways have liberalized and simplified some of the operations that were otherwise carried out primarily by the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation. (IRCTC). While any entity can operate these trains, including state governments, it is implicit that the policy targets tour operators.
What is the policy of Bharat Gaurav?
According to Bharat Gaurav’s policy, any operator or service provider, or virtually anyone, can hire trains from Indian Railways to run on a themed tour as a special sightseeing package. The duration of the arrangement is a minimum of two years and a maximum of the codal life of the coach. The operator is free to decide on the route, the stops, the services provided and, above all, the price.
The IRCTC operates such thematic tourist trains, for example the Ramayana Express, which tours several places related to Lord Ram.
In these organized tours, passengers usually stop at one location, stay in hotels, undertake sightseeing tours, etc., all organized by tour operators.
Operator Bharat Gaurav will also need to offer a similar business model in which it supports local transport, sightseeing, food, local stays, etc. as well as train operations.
Anyone can go to the railroads to rent the 3,033 conventional AWD factory design cars for this segment. In fact, if the operator finds it feasible, he can even buy rakes from Indian Railway production units and operate them.
Each train will have between 14 and 20 cars (including two guard cars or SLRs. The operator must however ensure a complete end-to-end service such as hotel stay, local arrangements, etc. These trains cannot be used as ordinary transport trains between an origin and a destination.
How will the railways deal with such requests?
A special unit will be created in each zonal railway to handle these requests, as well as assistance requesters, and see end-to-end procedural requirements for operators. These units will assist operators in creating routes, raising public awareness, making necessary approvals, etc. The idea is to provide operators with a meeting place, like a one stop shop for all their needs when interacting with railways, and not from pillar to post.
What can operators do under the contract?
The operator can furnish the interior of the trains himself if he so wishes in compliance with safety standards. He can decide what type of interior or bunk composition he wants. However, he cannot tinker with or disassemble critical parts of the coach that affect safety and operation.
He can name the circuit, the train and sell advertising space. It can carry out a marking outside and inside the train. It can partner with agencies and entities for business development and logistics, etc. He can decide what food and entertainment to add to the passenger experience.
However, we have to make sure that things that are not allowed by the railway laws are not done on these trains either. For example, the operator cannot serve alcohol, the policy says.
The policy does not say whether non-vegetarian food would be allowed, but officials said there should be no restrictions as it is allowed on Indian Railways trains.
The spirit of the policy is to give operators complete freedom to run the business and develop a business model in which Indian Railways will only physically operate the trains, maintain them and charge a fee.
What types of coaches have been affected?
Conventional AC Classes – I, II, III – have been assigned to non-AC sleeping cars, AC seats and pantry cars as part of this policy. The operator has the freedom to create a train with any mix depending on the type of clientele he will target. The coaches selected are divided into two age groups: over 15 years and up to 20 years and over 20 and up to 25 years. The fees for them will vary depending on their age. Usually coaches are retired after 35 years. If the term of the contract ends when the life of coaches or rake codal ends, the contract can be extended by mutual consent. Linke Hoffmann Busch coaches or Vande Bharat or Vista Dome coaches can also be included if there is future demand, but pricing will be different.
What will Indian railways do?
It will provide staff to drive the trains, guards and also on-board maintenance staff for the coaches. Other personnel, such as housekeeping and catering, etc., will be deployed by the operator. It will also ensure that all of its infrastructure is in place to safely and efficiently accommodate the train in its network. It will also give them priority in its paths, such as Rajdhanis and premium trains, so that these trains are not blocked or sidelined to make way for regular trains.
How much will it cost the operator?
The money turns out to be substantial as it is a sum of registration fees, security deposit for the rake, “right of use” fees, transport costs and parking fees. payable by the operator to the railways. All of these charges are related to the use of various components of rail resources, such as fuel, labor, depreciation, maintenance, rental, etc.
To start with, the railways will levy a one-time online registration fee of Rs 1 lakh from the applicant. The affected zonal railway will return after processing the request within 10 days.
Thereafter, after allocation of the rake, there is a security deposit of Rs 1 crore per rake (physical assets include a collection of motor-drawn coaches), regardless of the size of the rake, for the duration of the rake. right of use period.
“Right of use” fees
The annual “Right of use” fees calculated according to the type of coach borrowed and the duration. In the Bharat Gaurav system, the first year user fee must be paid in advance and the second year user fee must be paid 15 days before the end of the previous year. Late payment would result in a penalty equal to the bank’s prevailing interest rate plus a 3 percent administrative fee. If payment is not made within 30 days, the Right of Use may be terminated.
The annual user fee for an AC coach varies from Rs 3.5 to 1.4 lakh depending on class and age. The fee for the right to use a pantry is between Rs 2 lakh and Rs 65,000 depending on age and type. For a sleeping coach without air conditioning, it is between Rs 1.8 lakh and Rs 96,000. These fees are fixed for five years after which they can be revised. In the event that the cars are owned by the operator or are purchased directly by the railway factories, the user fee charge will not apply.
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