As many as 23 companies, including top names like Bombardier, Alstom, Siemens and GMR have shown interest in running private trains in the country and participated in an official pre-application online conference held Wednesday as a prelude to the Request for Qualification. In the first meeting, 16 companies had participated as India opens its rail sector to private firms to run passenger trains.
Other companies that attended Wednesday’s meeting on running private trains in 12 clusters included BEML, IRCTC, BHEL, CAF, Medha Group, Sterlite, Bharat Forge, JKB infrastructure and Titagarh Wagons Limited, it said.
During the meeting, the companies asked on issues like flexibility in clusters, eligibility criteria, bidding process, procurement of trains, fares, operations and maintenance, timing of trains and halts.
The government has identified 109 busy routes across India to run 151 private trains for 35 years. These are routes with huge waiting lists and offer a potential to earn. The 151 trains represent only around 5 per cent of total trains run in India. The contract period of 35 years is based on the fact that trains and engines are usually in service for around three decades.
For the project, the routes are divided into 12 clusters based out of major city centres, such as Patna, Secundrabad, Bengaluru, Jaipur, Prayagraj, Howrah, Chennai, Chandigarh, and two each for Delhi and Mumbai. In other words, trains to and from Mumbai, Chandigarh and the like. As of now, 20 trains with their origin or destination cities as Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Rajkot and Surat have been proposed.
Each cluster is an independent business project, inviting a private player to manage. The bidding process will conclude by the end of this financial year. After that, the first set of 12 trains is estimated to roll out by 2022-23, thereafter 45 trains in 2023-2024, 50 in 2025-26, and finally the remainder 44 in 2026-27.
Private players will pay a haulage charge to railways to run the trains and also pay to Railways a share of their revenues from the operations. In rolling stock technology alone, Railways expects private players to spend around Rs 30,000 crore.
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