Travelling in Indian trains could soon see a facelift, all thanks to a new operator. With the Delhi-Lucknow Tejas Express being siphoned off to private operators, whether it means better service or not is yet to be seen. By Bayar Jain
Since the inception of railways in India by the British, its operations have been handled entirely by the government. However, a recent announcement is set to change this age-old system. Following an open-bid process, the Delhi-Lucknow Tejas Express is set to become the first train run entirely by private operators.
Although it was not accommodated in the timetable until recently, the train has been parked at Anand Nagar Railway Station in Uttar Pradesh since it was first announced in 2016. With the new set up, the Indian Railways will first hand over custody of the train to Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), who will then begin the bidding process for private players. Once done, it is set to begin operations within the hundred days.
Currently, the Delhi-Lucknow route is served by 53 trains, the most popular of which is the Swarn Shatabdi taking six-and-a-half hours without delays. The Tejas Express aims to cut down this time by another half hour with one singular halt at Kanpur. It aims to depart from Lucknow at 6:50 am and reach Delhi by 1:35 pm, whereas the return journey would start at 3:35 pm and reach Lucknow by 10:05 pm. A similar route is being deliberated within the 500-km distance range; however, nothing has been finalised yet.
Although the private operators are yet to be finalised, the design and amenities within the coaches have been decided. The Tejas Express comes with electronically operated doors, WiFI, and coffee and tea vending machines within the train. CCTV cameras, bio-vacuum toilets, touch-less taps, and hand driers have been included as well. Plush eco-leather seats coupled with larger windows makes the experience even better.