With the signing of agreements between the Indian Railways and 14 prominent private and public sector players on Thursday, the container train operations have been formally thrown open to the private sector ending the monopoly of the government-run Container Corporation in transporting cargo.
The development will help increase government revenue by Rs 2,000 crore annually and enable the Railways to corner a greater share of freight business which is currently the monopoly of road transporters. Nearly 70 per cent of the goods transport in the country is handled by road transporters while the rest is with the Railways.
The public-private partnership (PPP) agreements lay down that the private operators will buy containers from manufacturers, build inland container depots and get business from customers while the Railways will run the trains carrying the cargo.
The agreements were signed in the presence of Railway Minister Lalu Yadav, Finance Minister P Chidambaram, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Railway Board Chairman JP Batra and other top officials.
Speaking on the occasion, Lalu expressed happiness over the fact that the 14 operators were investing about Rs 400 crore for manufacture of more than 2,000 container wagons. He was confident that in the next few years the Railways would attract investments worth thousands of crores in container and terminal operations.
Among the companies that signed the agreements were Anil Ambani-owned Reliance Infrastructure Engineers Ltd, Adani Logistics Ltd, Central Warehousing Corporation, Pipavav Railway Corporation and Innovative B2B Logistics.
These companies have paid Rs 500 crore to Railways as licence fee. Most of them are expected to start operations within three to six months.