More than two dozen firms, including global majors Alstom Transport, Bombardier, Siemens AG and Macquarie have evinced interest in operating private passenger trains in India, Mint reported.
Besides, home-grown companies such as Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), National Infrastructure Investment Fund (NIIF) and KEC International have also shown interest in operating private trains, the report quotes a senior railway ministry official as saying.
Government’s think-tank NITI Aayog and Indian Railways have come out with a discussion paper for running 150 trains on 100 routes by private operators, envisaging an investment of Rs 22,500 crore.
The privatisation of train operation, the report said, will help in introducing modern technology and rolling stock with reduced maintenance. Besides, it would provide world-class service experience to passengers and also help in reducing the supply-demand deficit. The operators could be domestic or international entities, it said.
The response to the government’s proposal has been good, two senior government officials told the publication. Several domestic and global companies have shown interest in recent meetings with top bureaucrats from railway ministry and NITI Aayog, they stated.
Bids for operating 150 private trains on 100 routes will reportedly open in a few weeks.
It will take at least two years for the first private train to start running, Railway Board Chairman Vinod Kumar Yadav said.
The discussion paper came out in the first week of January. The paper titled 'Private Participation: Passenger Trains' has identified 100 routes, including Mumbai Central-New Delhi, New Delhi- Patna, Allahabad-Pune and Dadar-Vadodara.
Other prominent routes include Howrah-Chennai, Howrah Patna, Indore-Okhla, Lucknow-Jammu Tawi, Chennai-Okhla, Anand Vihar-Bhagalpur, Secunderabad-Guwahati and Howrah-Anand Vihar.
The paper, prepared for discussions with stakeholders, has split the 100 routes into 10-12 clusters. Each bidder would eligible for award of maximum three clusters, it said.
The private operator will have the right to collect market-linked fares and will be provided the flexibility of class composition and halts, the report stated.
The Tejas Express on the Lucknow-Delhi route, which was flagged off on October 4, is the railways' first experience of letting a non-railway operator run a train. The Tejas Express is run by railways' subsidiary IRCTC.
(With inputs from PTI)