The much awaited project involving private players in passenger train operation is finally off the ground with the Railways floating the Request for Qualifications (RFQ) seeking private investment of about Rs 30,000 crore in the first of its kind initiative in the Indian rail sector.
The bold move entails private players to operate passenger services over 109 routes across the country heralding 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.
Spreading over 12 clusters, there would be about 151 new age trains with modern amenities which would ply on 109 identified destinations.
Private players are expected to respond by September 8 which would be followed by the Request for Proposal (RFP). The RFP is likely to be opened by December-end which means 2021 would witness awarding the contracts.
While the concession period for the project shall be 35 years, the haulage charge has been fixed at Rs 512 per km barring energy cost. 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 a 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 Bangalore are major clusters for which the players are keen to run 16-coach trains.
Majority of trains 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 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, provide 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 journey 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.