The Railways on July 1 formally kick-started plans to allow private entities to operate passenger trains on its network. The national transporter invited request for qualifications (RFQ) for participation in 109 pairs of routes through 151 modern trains.
Here are the key highlights of the announcement:
> This is the first initiative for private investment in running passenger trains on the Indian Railways' network. It began last year with the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) introducing the Lucknow-Delhi Tejas Express.
> The project would entail a private sector investment of about Rs 30,000 crore.
> The 109 origin-destination routes have been formed into 12 clusters. Each train shall have a minimum of 16 coaches.
> Majority of these modern trains are to be manufactured under 'Make in India' and the private entity will be responsible for financing, procuring, operating and maintaining these trains.
> Trains will be designed for a maximum speed of 160 kmph. There would be a substantial reduction in journey time.
> The running time taken by a train will be comparable to or faster than the fastest train of the Indian Railways operating on the respective route.
> The concession period for the project will be 35 years and the private entity will pay Indian Railways fixed haulage charges, energy charges as per actual consumption and a share in gross revenue determined through a transparent bidding process.
> These trains will be operated by the driver and guard of the Indian Railways. Operation of trains by the private entity will conform to the key performance indicators like punctuality, reliability, upkeep of trains, etc.
> Operation and maintenance of the passenger trains would be governed by standards and specifications, and requirements specified by Indian Railways.
> The entire process of handing over certain routes to private players will be completed in two parts. The first started on July 1 with an invite for RFQs, wherein private bidders will qualify. The second step will be a Request for Proposal (RFP). The details of revenue generation and routes will be decided during the latter process.
> Aimed at offering airline-like services to train passengers, the national transporter said private players, apart from fixing fares, have to also provide facilities like catering, cleaning and supply of bedding to passengers.