Indian Railways (IR) has reportedly lined up a massive redevelopment plan that includes bidding out 150 railways stations to private companies and setting up 151 new high-speed rail routes by 2023. Railways is also hoping to end FY21 with a surplus from its freight business, even as passenger services remain stunted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The national transporter has utilised rail tracks left unused due to limited passenger train services to increase its freight routes by at least 50 percent over FY20, with an aim to neutralise revenue loss, VK Yadav, Chairman – Railway Board told The Economic Times.
“We want this opportunity to see that our freight traffic is at least 50 percent more than last year. We are working towards that. If that happens, we will not only be able to neutralise our revenue loss, maybe we can make a surplus also," Yadav said.
The plan to bid out operation of railway stations and trains to private players is a “big step to improving services for passengers,” Yadav said adding that the move has been “well-received by investors.”
Applications are expected to be opened on September 8, 2020, and they expect to finalise the request for quote (RFQ) by November 8, Yadav stated. Tenders for the high-speed passenger trains are likely to close by April 2021, with an aim to begin operations by April 2023, he added.
"We are committed to tailor this project to suit the investor requirements and Indian Railways' interest. So we are maintaining a fine balance between these two objectives," Yadav said, adding that the timeline is “stringent.”
Over 20 companies including international players such as Alstom, Bombardier, Talgo, Adani Ports, Tata Realty, Macquarie Group and NIIF have participated in consultations with the Railways for the private train projects, the report said. Yadav said that participation from Chinese companies would be strictly as per the Department for Promotion of In industry and Internal Trade’s (DPIIT) policy.
Other upgrade plans include synchronisation of the rail network to 160 kmph and introduction of rolling stock. Yadav said the move towards private involvement is not just isolated contracts; it has been in the works for the past three to four years.