As many as 16 companies, including Bombardier, Sterlite Power and GMR Infrastructure, have shown interest in operating passenger trains on India’s railway network.

In a virtual pre-application conference organized by the Indian Railways on Tuesday, the companies raised their concerns and sought clarifications on the bidding framework, eligibility criteria, bid process, procurement of rakes, operations of trains and composition of route clusters.

“There were 16 participants in the conference. Bombardier, Sterlite Power and GMR Infrastructure were some of the companies to seek queries,” a senior government official said, requesting anonymity.

The railway ministry will provide written replies to the queries received from the prospective applicants by 31 July. The second pre-application conference is scheduled on 12 August.

After the applicants are shortlisted, they will have to offer a fixed-price bid to qualify for the project.

The railway ministry said it will provide details of passenger traffic being handled on the routes under bidding to offer clarity before the process begins. The national transporter had earlier said it will run 151 additional trains on the busiest routes, where demand is high.

The national transporter will allow private companies to run 151 modern passenger trains across more than 100 routes.

The trains will operate in 12 clusters, including Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Delhi, Mumbai, Patna, Prayagraj, Secunderabad, Howrah and Chennai. By April 2023, trains across some routes will be operationalized. The project would entail private sector investment of about 30,000 crore.

The participation of private players in operating trains is expected to improve railway infrastructure with improved coach technology, thereby reducing journey time, and boosting the railways’ earnings.

An official statement said that the railway ministry clarified that operational risks will be shared in an equitable manner by the private players, as well as the national transporter. “MoR (ministry of railways) has clarified that trains to be operated under the project can be either purchased or taken on lease by the private entities,” it said, adding that haulage charges (charge for using tracks) will be indexed for the entire concession period, bringing certainty on the rates.

According to the project information memorandum document released by the national transporter earlier this month, the concession period for the project will be 35 years, and the private firms will have to pay fixed haulage charges.

News Source: Livemint


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