Kozhikode: Resentment is brewing among the railway employees as the country's first privatised train is set to be flagged off on Saturday. The semi-high-speed and fully air-conditioned Tejas Express between New Delhi and Lucknow will be run by private operators through the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation. Though it was announced in 2016, it couldn't be operated so far due to technical issues.
The railway staff will observe black day on Friday in protest against the privatisation of the railway services and will wear white shirt, black pant and black ribbon on arms.
The Indian Railway Ticket Checking Staff Organisation (IRTCSO) and All-India Loco Running Staff Association (AILRSA) will join the protest.
The employees in all divisions across the country will give memorandums to the divisional railway manager against the move.
"Other trains, including Rajadhani and Jan Shatabdi which are earning profit would also be privatised," said R.G. Pillai, joint general secretary of Dakshin Railway Employee Union (DREU).
The privatisation of Tejas in a 100-day action plan is the first step to allowing private operators which will affect the interests of both employees and passengers," he added. The modern workshop and coach factory in Rai Bareli are also on the verge of privatisation, he pointed out. "The factory has made 2,458 coaches this year at a cost of Rs 2.3 crore, while the estimated cost was Rs 5.6 crore" said Mr Pillai.
"The major railway profit comes from dedicated freight corridor and the government's move to hand it over to private operators titled 'Freight Corridor Corporation of India limited' will hit the railway development. The profit from goods train was used to stabilise the loss from passenger trains," he added.
"Indian Railways gives 43 percent subsidy to the passengers while privatisation will take it away," said Dr Hemant Soni, general secretary of IRTCSO.
Special privileges are being provided to the private train ignoring the current trains to maintain their punctuality.
The passengers of the regular trains will suffer due to that and the private trains will gain, he pointed out.
A board meeting of railways on September 27 had decided to exchange 150 trains in 50 routes to private companies in first phase covering major stations including Ernakulam, Thiruvananthapuram, Chennai, Agra, Mumbai and Delhi", said R G Pillai....