Just like in airlines, passengers of private trains, once launched, could have to pay for preferred seats, baggage, and onboard services, the earnings from which will be part of the gross revenue to be shared with the Railways, according to an official document. The Railways recently floated a Request for Qualification (RFQ) inviting private entities to operate passenger trains on its network.

The decision on whether to charge passengers for these services will rest with the private parties, officials said.

In the document, it has said that bidders based on their financial capacity, will be required to offer the share in the gross revenue at the request for proposal (RFP) stage for undertaking the project.

While the Railways has given private players the freedom to fix the fare to be charged from passengers, they will also have the freedom to explore fresh avenues to generate revenue, according to the RFQ.

“The definition of gross revenue, which is under consideration is as below. Any amount accruing to the concessionaire (private entity) from passengers or any third party from the provision of following services to the passengers on account of running of trains under the concession agreement: amount printed on ticket- fare; amount from preferred seat options, baggage/ luggage, cargo/ parcel (if not included in the ticket fare),” the RFQ stated.

“The amount from onboard services such as catering, bedroll, content on-demand, wi-fi (if not included in the ticket fare). Any amount accruing to the concessionaire on account of advertising, branding and naming rights pursuant to the concession agreement,” the document stated.

The Railway Board chairman at a press conference had allayed fears that prices of tickets of private trains will be too expensive and said that they will be market-driven and based on competitive pricing.

In a first of its kind initiative, the Indian Railways has invited proposals from private companies to run 151 modern passenger trains on 109 pairs of routes across the country in a project that would entail private sector investment of about Rs 30,000 crore.