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The Ministry of Railways had recently invited request for qualification (RFQ) for private participation for the operation of passenger train services over 109 origin-destination (OD) pairs of routes through the introduction of 151 modern trains. The trains will be run by private operators once the selection process is over above the already existing trains.
These trains are going to run on the routes where there the demand for train services are higher than the existing capacity. The driver and guard of the trains will railway officials. The safety clearance of trains will be done by Railways only.
The 109 OD Pairs have been formed into 12 clusters across the Indian Railways’ network. Each train shall have a minimum of 16 coaches. The project would entail a private sector investment of about Rs 300 billion. This is the first initiative of private investment for running passenger trains on Asia’s second-largest railway network.
A majority of trains would be manufactured in the country under the Central Government’s ‘Make in India’ programme. The private entity shall be responsible for financing, procurement, operation and maintenance of trains.
The trains shall be designed for a maximum speed of 160 kmph. There would be a substantial reduction in journey time. The running time taken by a train shall be comparable to or faster than the fastest train of Indian Railways operating on that route.
The objective of this initiative is to introduce technologically advanced rolling stock with reduced maintenance, improve transit time, boost job creation, ensure enhanced safety, provide world-class travel experience to passengers and reduce the present demand-supply deficit in the passenger transportation sector.
The private entity shall pay to the Indian Railways fixed haulage and energy charges as per actual consumption as well as share in gross revenue determined through a transparent bidding process.
The operation of the trains by the private entity shall conform to the key performance indicators like punctuality, reliability, upkeep of trains, etc.
The Indian Railways network is about 68,000 route kilometres. In the year 2018-19, the reserved passenger volume was 16 per cent (0.59 billion) of the total originating non-suburban passengers (3.65 billion). Almost 88.5 million of waitlisted passengers could not be accommodated.
Ministry of Railways, therefore, felt the requirement to introduce private participation in passenger train operation to allow the introduction of next-generation technology and provision of higher service quality, ensuring the use of improved coach technology and reduced journey time. In this direction, the RFQ has been already invited to permit private entities to undertake passenger train operations. These train services would be operated on the Indian Railway network where at present both passenger and freight trains are being operated on the common track. The major trunk routes are saturated and operate at near full capacity. However, with planned commissioning of the Dedicated Freight Corridors (DFCs) in 2021 and other infrastructural works, there would be the availability of additional paths for the operation of additional passenger services utilising modern trains proposed under this initiative. The private entities for undertaking the project would be selected through a two-stage competitive bidding process comprising of RFQ and Request for Proposal (RFP). The RFQ process for pre-qualification and shortlisting of the bidders will be based on their financial capacity, who will be required to offer a share in the gross revenue at the RFP stage for undertaking the project. In its latest April-June 2020 issue, INFRASTRUCTURE TODAY has examined how the Indian Railways has initiated a move to rope in private operators. The gargantuan network that moves 8.2 billion people annually is drawing interest, but there are enough obstacles that need to be cleared and that can be done only when the government simplifies the way it works.