Indian Railways Invites Private Players To Run 151 Trains On 109 Routes

Indian Railways Invites Private Players To Run  151 Trains On 109 RoutesRailway Minister Piyush Goyal inspecting Train 18. (Qamar Sibtain/India Today Group/Getty Images)
Snapshot
  • Launching a private train operation project at this juncture is a crucial decision by Indian Railways, and it is expected that industry would respond in a positive way.

Indian Railways formally kick-started process to allow private players to operate passenger trains with the state transporter floating the request for qualifications (RFQs) seeking private investment of about Rs 30,000 crore. This is the first-of- its-kind initiative in the Indian rail sector.

The ambitious move entails private players to operate passenger services over 109 routes across the country, and has the potential to herald state-of-the-art technology in train operation.

The maiden attempt by the state-run transporter is expected to evince keen interest among top companies in infrastructure and transportation sectors, including Tata and Adani groups. Besides, some global players are also likely to enter the race for the ambitious private train operation project cleared by the Empowered Group of Secretaries.

Spread over 12 clusters, there would be about 151 new-age trains with modern amenities, and which would ply on 109 identified destinations.

Private players are expected to respond by 8 September which would be followed by the request for proposal (RFP). The RFP is likely to be opened by December-end with contracts to be awarded by 2021.

While the concession period for the project shall be 35 years, the haulage charge has been fixed at Rs 512 per kilometre barring energy costs. Energy bills have to be paid separately as per the consumption by the private players.

According to a railway official, "the private entity shall pay to Indian Railways fixed haulage charges, energy charges as per actual consumption and a share in gross revenue determined through a transparent bidding process.”

The trains shall be operated by the driver and guard of Indian Railways and the operation shall conform to the key performance indicators like punctuality, reliability, upkeep of trains, according to the RFQ.

Mumbai, Delhi, Howrah, Patna, Jaipur, Chennai, Prayagraj, Secunderabad, Chandigarh, and Bengaluru are major clusters for which the players are keen to run 16-coach trains.

A majority of trains are to be manufactured in India (Make in India). The private entity shall be responsible for financing, procuring, operation and maintenance of the trains.

According to the railways, the objective of this initiative is to introduce modern technology rolling stock with reduced maintenance, reduced transit time, boost job creation, provide enhanced safety and world-class travel experience to passengers, and also reduce demand supply deficit in the passenger transportation sector.

Trains shall be designed for a maximum speed of 160 kmph so that there would be a substantial reduction in travel time.

Battered by the pandemic, the economy of all countries has taken a beating and India is no exception to it. Launching a private train operation project at this juncture is a crucial decision by Indian Railways and it is expected that industry would respond in a positive way.

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