Private trains by April 2023

The Ministry of Railways has recently invited Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for private participation in the operation of passenger train services through introduction of 151 modern trains over 109 pairs of routes, divided across 12 clusters on the Indian Railways’ network.

Manas Dwivedi

This is the first initiative of private investment for running passenger trains over Indian Railways network. The identified clusters are Mumbai-1, Mumbai-2, Delhi-1, Delhi-2, Chandigarh, Howrah, Patna, Prayagraj, Secunderabad, Jaipur, Chennai and Bengaluru. The project would entail private sector investment of about `30,000 crore. The objective of this initiative is to introduce modern technology rolling stock with reduced maintenance, reduced transit time, boost job creation, provide enhanced safety, provide world-class travel experience to passengers, and also reduce demand-supply deficit in the passenger transportation sector. These private trains will be over and above the already existing trains. The private entity shall be responsible for financing, procuring, operation and maintenance of the trains.

VK Yadav, Chairman, Indian Railway Board, says that private players in passenger train operations will mean a quantum jump in technology and coaches that run at higher speeds.

“Allowing private companies to run passenger trains is a step towards bridging the demand-supply gap in Indian Railways’ operations. This would also mean that trains will be available on demand and that the passenger wait list will decrease. The private players will also share revenue with Indian Railways through competitive bidding. They will have to ensure 95 per cent punctuality and record not more than one failure per lakh kilometre of travel. If any performance indicators are not met in train operations, they will be penalised,” he shares.

“Private train operations are likely to begin by April 2023; all coaches will be procured under ‘Make in India’ policy. Fares in private trains will be competitive, and prices on other modes of transport like airlines, buses will have to be kept in mind. The government estimates 13 billion passengers will travel by train in FY2030, compared to 8.4 billion passengers in FY2020,” he further adds.

Bidding and selection process
The private entities for undertaking the project would be selected through a two-stage competitive bidding process comprising Request for Qualification (RFQ) and Request for Proposal (RFP). RFQ process will be for pre-qualification, and shortlisting of the bidders will be based on their financial capacity, who will be required to offer share in the Gross Revenue at RFP stage (bid parameter) for undertaking the project. The private participation in passenger train operations will only be five per cent of the existing 2800 Mail/Express trains over the Indian Railways.

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