There is a proposal to outsource commercial and onboard services of a few trains, but no large-scale privatisation plans are underway, the Railway Ministry informed Parliament on Friday.
In reply to a query in the Rajya Sabha, the ministry said that while private players will be allowed to run trains, the responsibility of its safety lay with the railways.
Railway subsidiary IRCTC, its tourism and catering arm, has already started running railways' first "private" train, Tejas Express from Lucknow to Delhi.
"There is no plan for large scale privatisation of railway routes. There is a proposal to outsource the commercial and onboard services of a few trains and also to permit private players to induct modern rakes to run trains on select routes with an objective to provide improved service delivery to passengers. However, the responsibility of train operations and safety rests with the Indian Railways," Railway Minister Piyush Goyal informed the Rajya Sabha.
According to a recent order of the Niti Ayog, the government is in the process of forming a task force to draw a blueprint for handing over operations of 150 trains and 50 railway stations to private operators in a "time-bound manner".
Besides Railway Board Chairman K Yadav and Niti Ayog CEO Amitabh Kant, Department of Economic Affairs Secretary and Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs secretary will be part of the empowered group.
The Tejas Express on Lucknow-Delhi route, which was flagged off on October 4, is the railways' first experience of running a train by non-railway operator, its own subsidiary, IRCTC.
IRCTC has a slew of benefits worked out for its passengers - combination meals, free insurance of up to Rs 25 lakh and compensation in case of delays.