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Indian Railways to allow private entities to operate passenger trains

Thursday, 02 Jul 2020
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The Indian Railways has formally commenced its plans to allow private entities to operate passenger trains on its network by inviting request for qualifications (RfQ) for participation on 109 pairs of routes through 151 modern trains. 
The project will see private sector investment of around Rs 30,000 crore. This is the first initiative for private investment for running passenger trains on the Indian Railways network. 
The project began in 2019 with the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) introducing the Lucknow-Delhi Tejas Express. At present, IRCTC operates three trains, the Kashi Mahakal Express on the Varanasi-Indore route, the Lucknow-New Delhi Tejas and the Ahmedabad-Mumbai Tejas. 
The objective of the initiative is to introduce modern technology rolling stock with reduced maintenance, reduced transit time, increase job creation, provide enhanced safety, world-class travel experience to passengers, etc.
The 109 origin-destination routes have been formed into 12 clusters across the Indian Railways network and train shall have a minimum of 16 coaches.  The majority of these modern trains will be manufactured in India under Make in India and the private entity will be responsible for financing, procuring, operating and maintaining the trains. 
The trains will be designed for a maximum speed of 160 km per hour. The running time taken by a train would be comparable to or faster than the fastest train of the Indian Railways operating in the respective route. 
The concession period for the project would be 35 years and the private company will 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. 
These trains will be operated by the driver and guard of the Indian Railways. The operation of the trains by the private entity will conform to the key performance indicators like punctuality, reliability, upkeep of trains, etc. 
The operation and maintenance of the passenger trains will be governed by standards and specifications, and requirements specified by the Indian Railways. The entire process of handing over certain routes to private players will be completed in two parts. 
The first started with invite for RfQs wherein private bidders will qualify, and the second will be request for proposal (RfP). The details of revenue generation and routes will be decided during the latter process. 
Apart from fixing fares, the private entities will have to also provide facilities like catering, cleaning and supply of beddings to passengers. 
The Niti Aayog and the Indian Railways came out with a discussion paper for running 150 trains on 100 routes by private operators, envisaging an investment of Rs 22,500 crore in the beginning of 2020. The discussion paper ‘Private Participation: Passenger Trains’ has identified 100 routes, including Mumbai Central-New Delhi, New Delhi-Patna, Allahabad-Pune and Dadar-Vadodara. 
Apart from this, other routes include Howrah-Chennai, Howrah-Patna, Indore-Okhla, Lucknow-Jammu-Tawi, Chennai-Okhla, AnandVihar-Bhagalpur, Secunderabad-Guwahati and Howrah-Anand Vihar. Each bidder would be eligible for award of maximum three clusters.


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