As railways plan to introduce new private trains in the coming years, companies including GMR, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), L&T Infrastructure Development Projects, Bharat Heavy Electricals and Welspun Enterprises are among 13 players who have been shortlisted by the Indian Railways to run private trains. According to Indian Railways, these private trains will be run in 12 clusters.
Railways to run private trains | What we know
- In August this year, Railways said it is planning to introduce the first set of 12 private trains in 2023 followed by 45 more in the next fiscal as per an initial timeline, the national transporter held the second pre-bid conference meeting which was attended by 23 companies including several foreign firms. Railway Ministry officials termed the second pre-bid meeting as a “grand success”.
- According to Railway Ministry officials, Spanish coach and component maker CAF, Siemens Limited, Bombardier Transportation India, and GMR group which owns and operates two major airports in the country, were among the prominent players which participated in the pre-bid meeting.
- Officials also said that public sector units (PSUs) like Railways tourism and catering arm IRCTC and Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL), defence PSU BEML also participated in the meeting along with the Hyderabad-based Medha Group, which had bid for the Train 18 project, apart from RK Associates, Alstom Transport India Ltd, Sterlite Power, Bharat Forge and JKB Infrastructure.
- Gateway Rail, Jasan Infra, Medha Engineering and Infrastructures Ltd, Hind Rectifiers, Titagarh Wagons Limited, I-Board India Pvt Ltd, Bharat Forge, L&T Infrastructure Development Projects Ltd, ISQ Asia Infrastructure Investments PTE Ltd and PSGG technologies Pvt Ltd also participated in the meeting.
- This was the second meeting for the private train operators. The first meeting took place on July 21 in which 16 companies had participated. Indian Railways, as part of plans to allow private entities to operate passenger trains on its network, has invited proposals from companies to run 151 modern passenger trains on 109 pairs of routes across the country. The project would entail private sector investment of about Rs 30,000 crore.
- Earlier, a Railways spokesperson had said that the issues and concerns raised by the prospective private players were discussed and clarifications were provided by the Railway officials and NITI Aayog for improved clarity on the provisions of RFQ and bidding framework. He said the queries were mainly related to eligibility criteria, bidding process, procurement of rakes, operation of trains and composition of clusters.
- The spokesperson further said that there were queries on haulage charges to which the Railways replied that haulage charges will be specified upfront and will be suitably indexed for the entire concession period, thereby bringing certainty in the haulage charges.
- “The Railways will also provide the details of passenger traffic being handled on the routes under bidding. This will enable the bidders to do due diligence for the project,” he said. He said that the Railways has clarified that trains to be operated under the project can be either purchased or taken on lease by the private entities. The national transporter clarified that risks with regard to operation of trains shall be allocated to the parties in an equitable manner.
- As part of its privatisation plan, the Railways has planned to introduce 12 trains in 2022-23, 45 in 2023-2024, 50 in 2025-26 and 44 in 2026-27, taking the total number to 151. The request for qualification (RFQ), which was floated on July 1, is likely to be finalised by November, while the financial bids will be opened by March, 2021. The selection of bidders is planned to be completed by April 31, 2021.
- The spokesperson said that the issues raised during the meeting will be shared with the participants by August 21. The Railways had earlier responded to the queries of the 16 participants on July 31.
- He said that the application due date has been fixed for September 8 and the shortlisted companies will be announced on November 8, 60 days from the due date.
(With inputs from IANS)