16 Private Firms Show Interest In Running Passenger Trains In India
An Express train sits idle at an empty platform station during a lockdown imposed due to the coronavirus in Delhi, India. (Photographer: T. Narayan/Bloomberg)

16 Private Firms Show Interest In Running Passenger Trains In India

The Railway Ministry has received queries from 16 companies showing interest in operating passenger trains as India plans to allow private operators to run services on one of the world's biggest rail networks.

The companies raised queries on eligibility criteria, bidding process, rake procurement, operation of trains, composition of clusters and haulage charges, according to a statement issued by the ministry on Tuesday evening. It didn't disclose the names.

Officials from the government’s policy think tank NITI Aayog and the ministry have discussed and clarified the queries raised by prospective bidders, the statement said. A written reply to the queries will also be provided by the ministry by July 31 along with passenger traffic data for the routes under bidding.

The railways invited request for qualification earlier this month from private companies to operate passenger train services in the country in a project that is estimated to bring investments worth Rs 30,000 crore. The government is offering them to operate over 109 pairs of routes with the introduction of 151 modern trains.

The ministry said the private entities will be selected through two-stage competitive bidding comprising of request for qualification and request for proposal.

The prospective bidders were informed that for operating the trains, they can either purchase or lease the trains. Also, haulage charges will be decided upfront and indexed for the concession period. The ministry also clarified that the risk of operating trains will be allocated to the parties in an equitable manners.

The ministry aims to finalise the tenders by March 2021, and the private trains are slated to operate from March 2023.

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