GMR, L&T, IRCTC and BHEL are among 16 major entities who have made the cut for request for proposal (RFP) stage of the Rs 30,000 crore passenger train operations project.
Indian Railways has completed request for qualification (RFQ) evaluations for private public participation (PPP) in the project.
The ambitious project envisages the private train operation, a first-of-its-kind initiative in the rail sector, involving 151 trains on 109 routes across the country.
Sixteen entities sent a total of 120 applications pursuant to the RFQ out of which 102 were found eligible to participate in the next bidding stage, according to the railways.
The companies that have made the cut for the RFP stage include Cube Highways and Infrastructure, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), GMR Highways, L&T, BHEL, Megha Engineering & Infrastructures, Gateway Rail Freight Limited, Gateway Distriparks Limited, Techno Infra Developers, RK Associates & Hoteliers, Omaxe Limited, CAF India, PNC Infratech, Welspun Enterprises, Malempati Power Limited and IRB Infra, among others.
The routes to be offered to private players have been divided into 12 clusters: Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Chennai, Delhi (two clusters), Howrah, Jaipur, Mumbai (two clusters), Patna, Prayagraj and Secunderabad.
The railways maintained that the RFP documents will be made available to qualified applicants very soon.
The railways had invited RFQ in July for private participation to operate passenger train services over 12 clusters comprising more than 150 origin-destination pairs of routes through introduction of 151 modern trains.
The private entities for undertaking the project would be selected through a transparent two-stage competitive bidding process comprising RFQ and RFP.
The applications were opened on 7 October 2020, and 120 applications were received for the 12 clusters from 16 applicant firms. The railways said that it was an excellent response.
Private players are expected to introduce new-age trains with modern technology in the Indian rail system which would reduce journey time substantially. Each train will have a minimum of 16 coaches.
The private entity shall pay the Indian Railways fixed haulage charges, energy charges as per actual consumption and a share in gross revenue determined through a transparent bidding process. The concession period for the project will be 35 years.
The trains would, however, be operated by drivers and guards of Indian Railways.