The GMR group, Bombardier India are among the 16 private players which have shown interest on in the Railways' private trains project. The 16 firms attended a pre-application conference on the private train project held on Tuesday. The Railways has invited 12 Request for Qualifications for private participation in the operation of passenger train services over 109 origin-destination pair of routes.
Spanish coach and component maker CAF, RITES, Bharat Heavy Electricals, Hyderabad-based Medha Group, RK Associates, Railways' catering arm IRCTC Sterlite Power, Bharat Forge and JKB Infrastructure also participated in the meeting to understand the new business being proposed by the government, reported The Indian Express.
Formally kick-starting its plans to allow private entities to operate passenger trains on its network, the Railways invited proposals from companies earlier in July to run 151 modern passenger trains on 109 pairs of routes across the country. The project would entail an investment of about Rs 30,000 crore.
The private entities for undertaking the project will be selected through a two-stage competitive bidding process comprising Request for Qualification (RFQ) and Request for Proposal (RFP).
Also read: Private trains: Railways holds first pre-bid meeting
In a statement, the Railways said the initiative was to improve the availability of transportation services, introduce modern technology rolling stock and services to improve the overall travel experience of passengers.
"Multiple operators in train operations will create competition and improve service delivery. This initiative is also intended at reducing the demand-supply deficit in the passenger transportation sector," the statement said.
During the meeting, the statement said, the issues and concerns raised by the prospective Applicants were discussed and clarifications were provided by the officials of Ministry of Railways and NITI Aayog for improved clarity on the provisions of RFQ and bidding framework.
The queries were mainly related eligibility criteria, bid process, procurement of rakes, operations of trains and composition of clusters.
There were queries on haulage charges for which officials said that haulage charges will be specified upfront and will be suitably indexed for the entire concession period thereby bringing certainty in the haulage charges.
The Ministry of Railways has clarified that trains to be operated under the project can be either purchased or taken on lease by the private entities.
It has also clarified that risks with regard to the operation of trains shall be allocated to the parties in an equitable manner.
Written replies to the queries received from the prospective applicants will be provided by July 31, 2020. The second pre-application conference will be held on 12 August 2020.
According to an initial timeline drawn by the Railways, it will introduce 12 trains in 2022-23, 45 in 2023-2024, 50 in 2025-26 and 44 more in the next fiscal. All 151 private trains will be introduced by the end of FY 2026-2027.
(With PTI inputs)