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Private trains project: 16 firms take part in pre-application meet

GMR, Sterlite, Bombardier, Janson, global investment firm I-Squared Capital are some of the companies that evinced interest in the new sector of running passenger trains.

Written by Avishek G Dastidar | New Delhi |
Updated: July 22, 2020 10:58:33 am
indian railways, railway parcel train, dry red chillies, bangladesh, guntur, indian express Some operators were concerned about the lease period of 35 years.

Indian Railways might want a private train operator in future to run its trains at 160 km per hour, but where is the track to run trains at such speeds? Queries like this came from 16 companies that participated in an official pre-application online conference held Tuesday as a prelude to the Request for Qualification as India opens its rail sector to private companies to run passenger trains.

GMR, Sterlite, Bombardier, Janson, global investment firm I-Squared Capital are some of the companies that evinced interest in the new sector of running passenger trains.

Companies like RK Associates, a mega player in the railway food businesses, IRCTC, Medha (makers of the current Vande Bharat trainsets), Titagarh Wagons and Bharat Forge also participated in the meeting to understand the new business being proposed by the government. Sources said that investment companies were also there but Railways officially did not give out any names of the participants.

Railway officials told industry representatives that by the time the project comes to fruition, Indian Railways would have upgraded its tracks to run trains at 160 km per hour. There were queries on whether private operators could lease existing trains from Indian Railways stables. To that, they were told that there was freedom to bring trains from anywhere as long as they match the specifications of the tender. As per schedule, private trains are to be operational by 2023.

Several big corporate names that had earlier evinced interest did not participate, but sources said that many of them could be participating as equity investors later purely as a business strategy. Sources said that since there is time till September, many more names would participate.

Some operators were concerned about the lease period of 35 years. Some of them conveyed that the traffic projection for 35 years as well as the current traffic pattern on the routes of 12 clusters should be made available to them. Concerns were also raised about maintenance of the rolling stock that they bring.

“Today was just the first formal meeting, so a lot of queries will continue to come… We will keep replying to the queries,” said an official.

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