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NEW DELHI : Indian Railways plans to invite bids from private operators for running more than 150 passenger trains in the year starting 1 April after a similar plan failed last year, two people privy to the development said.

The railways has identified about 100 destinations where passenger trains will be run by companies that win the contracts. Most destinations are expected to be the same as was in the bids invited last year, but the process had to be scrapped in November because of muted interest from private companies, the people said, requesting anonymity.

The railways has begun consultations with investors looking to run private passenger trains and, based on their feedback, bidding parameters would be tweaked to attract more bidders, the people said.

Queries sent to a spokesperson for the ministry of railways remained unanswered till press time. Officials, however, said consultations are on, and fresh bids may be invited soon with a possible mention in the upcoming Union budget.

Last July, the railways opened a 30,000 crore tender for running private trains on 109 origin-destination pairs. The tender was divided into 12 clusters. Though about 120 applications for 12 clusters from about 15 firms came, only three clusters received financial bids from Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corp. (IRCTC) and Megha Engineering and Infrastructure (MEIL). Those who had shown initial interest included GMR Highways, IRB Infrastructure and Developer, Cube Highways and Infrastructure III and Welspun Enterprises.

Officials said investors need clarity on base fare for routes, haulage charges, cost of rakes, concession period as it will have a bearing on making such investments generate a return.

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