Indian Railways Invites Bids To Run 151 Private Trains
People walk along along a platform as trains sit idle at the New Delhi Railway station in New Delhi, India, on Thursday, May 14, 2020. (Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg)

Indian Railways Invites Bids To Run 151 Private Trains

Indian Railways is seeking investment from private players to operate high-speed passenger trains in the country, as it seeks to reduce travel time and expand capacity in Asia’s oldest network.

The Ministry of Railways said on Wednesday it has invited requests for qualifications from private firms to operate passenger train services over 109 origin-destination routes, through 151 modern trains.

“Majority of trains would be manufactured in India (Make in India),” the ministry said in a statement, adding that the private entity will be responsible for financing, procuring, operation and maintenance of the trains, which would be designed for a maximum speed of 160 kmph. “The project would entail private sector investment of about Rs 30,000 crore.”

The first large-scale tender of its kind comes as Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeks to boost economic recovery and create jobs after the nation went into a lockdown following the Covid-19 outbreak. Asia’s third-largest economy is seen contracting for the first time in more than four decades after all but essential businesses were shuttered for over two months, decimating consumption.

The national transporter expects a substantial reduction in journey time as the running time taken by a train will be comparable to or faster than the fastest train operating in the same route.

The 109 routes have been formed into 12 clusters across the rail network and each train will have a minimum of 16 coaches, the statement said, adding that the concession period for the project will be 35 years.

“The private entity shall pay the Indian Railways fixed haulage charges, energy charges as per actual consumption and a share in gross revenue determined through a transparent bidding process,” it said.

The trains would, however, be operated by drivers and guards of Indian Railways. The ministry said allowing private players would also enable introduction of modern technology rolling stock with reduced maintenance, boost job creation, provide enhanced safety, improve travel experience of passengers, and reduce demand supply deficit in the passenger transportation sector.

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