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Photo: Mint
Photo: Mint

23 firms in fray to run special trains, can buy or lease rakes for private ops

The companies will have the freedom to decide on the fares to be charged from the passengers, the ministry of railways says

NEW DELHI : As many as 23 companies, including Bombardier, Alstom, Siemens, India’s National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) and Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL), have shown interest in running special trains under the Indian Railways’ plans for privatization, and attended the pre-application meeting on Wednesday. The railways said the firms will have the option to either run their own trains or lease them—a move that is expected to encourage more players to bid for the project.

“Ministry of railways (MoR) clarified that risks with regard to operation of trains shall be allocated to the parties best suited to manage them. MoR also informed that the private entity shall have the freedom to decide on the fare to be charged from its passengers," the ministry said.

Other companies that attended the meeting included BEML, IRCTC, CAF, Sterlite, Bharat Forge, JKB Infrastructure and Titagarh Wagons, it added. Last month, the national transporter had invited request for qualification (RFQ) for private participation in the operation of passenger trains for over 109 routes, with the introduction of 151 modern trains. This will be in addition to the existing trains operated on the network.

The first pre-application conference was held on 21 July. After the applicants are shortlisted, in the next stage, they will have to offer a fixed-price bid for undertaking the project.

“The applicants raised queries on a number of issues, including flexibility in clusters, eligibility criteria, bidding process, procurement of trains, fares, operations and maintenance," the ministry said. As far as haulage charges (for using tracks) are concerned, it will be indexed for the entire concession period, bringing certainty on its rate.

This is the first initiative of private investment for running passenger trains on the Indian Railways’ network. The project entails a private sector investment of about 30,000 crore. According to the railways, the trains will operate across 12 clusters, including Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Delhi, Mumbai, Patna, Prayagraj, Secunderabad, Howrah and Chennai. By April 2023, some routes are expected to be operationalized.

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