The national transporter has invited 12 Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for private participation in the operation of passenger trains.
Indian Railways private trains project: Recently, a pre-application conference (also the first meeting) was held on the private train project, which was attended by 16 companies! In the coming years, 151 modern trains will be run by private players over 109 origin-destination pair of routes across the Indian Railways network. The 16 companies which have shown interest in the project include GMR group, Spanish coach and component maker CAF, Bombardier India, PSUs- RITES, and Bharat Heavy Electricals, according to a PTI report. Apart from them, RK Associates, Sterlite Power, Medha Group, which had bid for the Train 18 project, the catering arm of Indian Railways – IRCTC, Bharat Forge, and JKB Infrastructure also attended the meeting, according to sources quoted in the report. However, the names of the companies which participated in the meeting have not been officially revealed by the national transporter.
According to the report, the national transporter has invited 12 Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for private participation in the operation of passenger trains. For operations of passenger trains over the Indian Railway Network, this is the first initiative of private investment. It is being said that the private train project would entail private sector investment of around Rs 30,000 crore. For undertaking the project, the private companies will be selected through a two-stage process of competitive bidding, consisting of RFQ, and Request for Proposal (RFP).
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Indian Railways had said the initiative of this project was to improve the overall travel experience of passengers by improving the availability of transportation services as well as by introducing modern technology rolling stock and services. In train operations, multiple operators will create competition as well as improve service delivery. It also intends at reducing demand-supply deficit in the sector of passenger transportation.
During the meeting, the prospective Applicants raised issues and concerns and the officials of the Ministry of Railways and NITI Aayog provided clarifications. Most of the queries related to eligibility criteria, procurement of rakes, bid process, haulage charges, train operations as well as the composition of clusters. The Railway Ministry has clarified that under the project, trains that are to be operated can be either purchased or taken on lease by the private companies. Moreover, the Railway Ministry also clarified that risks with regard to train operations shall be allocated in an equitable manner to the parties.
According to an internal projection, the national transporter plans to begin operations of private trains by March 2023, with 12 trains. By the year 2027, Indian Railways plans to bring in 151 such train services.