‘Contract for bullet train may cross Rs 15,000 crore mark’https://indianexpress.com/article/business/contract-for-bullet-train-may-cross-rs-15000-crore-mark/

‘Contract for bullet train may cross Rs 15,000 crore mark’

The contract for the bullet train, to be given out to a single entity, is slated to be floated by next month, decks for which are being cleared on war footing.

Only Indian and Japanese construction firms are qualified to apply, as per agreement with the funding agency, Japan International Cooperation Agency
Only Indian and Japanese construction firms are qualified to apply, as per agreement with the funding agency, Japan International Cooperation Agency. (Illustration)

The country’s first bullet train project is preparing to float what is likely to be the biggest ever civil works contract in India, the value of which is estimated to be in the range of five figures of crores of rupees. The contract, to be given out to a single entity, is slated to be floated by next month, decks for which are being cleared on war footing.

The job involves constructing over 200 km of viaduct for the high-speed line in Guajarat and all installations that come with it, including four stations of the bullet train corridor—Surat, Vapi, Valsad and Billimora. The laying of the high speed track on the viaduct will be a separate contract that will come later.

“We will be floating this tender soon,” Achal Khare, Managing Director of the National High Speed Rail Corporation told The Indian Express.

While it is difficult to put a figure to a tender before it is opened, officials said going by benchmark pricing of works involved, the estimate is in the range of Rs 15-20,000 crore for the whole work.

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Only Indian and Japanese construction firms are qualified to apply, as per agreement with the funding agency, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). However, unlike the experience in the Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) project, which is also being funded by JICA, the bullet train project is free to award the civil construction contracts to Indian firms even without any tie up with Japanese firms.

As per terms negotiated by the two countries, civil works is the domain of Indian companies that may or may not engage any Japanese firms. Viaduct (an elevated carriageway in which the tracks are laid for train operations) for high speed operations has never been made in India, but officials said that as per specifications, they are heavier than the viaduct erected for, say, railways.

Considering the size, Railway officials said that a contract of this magnitude, irrespective of which company bags it, is sure to energise the civil construction sector in India. The total bullet train project will require an estimated 58 lakh tonne of cement.

The stations of the corridor included in the contract are also large standalone projects each with a unique design reflecting the local culture. They are complete with circulating areas, commercial areas, parking et al. There is also a maintenance depot between Valsad and Vapi, part of the contract.

The biggest civil contract given out by the DFC project is for Rs 6,699 crore for the laying of 632 km of lines between Rewari and Iqbalgarh. The joint venture between Japan’s Sojitz and Indian engineering major L&T bagged the contract. The 14.2 km Zojila tunnel in Jammu and Kashmir, which went to IL&FS, is a Rs 6,800 crore contract. “It is definitely going to be among the biggest ever civil works contracts in India,” said a senior official.

Including pre-bid conference and completing all processes, the time taken to award the contract is estimated to be around eight months. It will be a “two packet” tender, where qualification and the financial quote are separate. All the major engineering/construction players in India and Japan are expected to be vying for the job.

The 508-km corridor project is between Sabarmati in Ahmedabad and the Bandra Kurla Complex in Mumbai. The project is navigating land-acquisition issues in parts of Gujarat and Maharashtra and is also said to be making headway at the same time. It is targeted to be completed between 2022 and 2023.