Indian Railways finds 102 applications eligible for private passenger train operations

The Ministry of Railways on Thursday said that it has completed the Request for Qualifications (RFQ) evaluations for PPP in passenger train operation project. The Ministry also said that it found 102 applications eligible for running private trains in the country.

According to reports, the Ministry earlier invited a request for qualifications (RFQ) for private participation in the operation of passenger train services over 12 clusters comprising more than 150 origin-destination pairs of routes through the introduction of 151 modern trains.

"This is the first major initiative of attracting private investment for running passenger trains over Indian Railway Network. The project would entail private sector investment of about Rs 30,000 crore," the Ministry of Railways said in a statement.

The private entities for undertaking the project would be selected through a transparent two-stage competitive bidding process comprising of RFQ and RFP. The RFQ for 12 clusters were published on July 1, 2020 and were opened on October 7, 2020.

Eight applicants each have qualified for Cluster 1 (Mumbai 1), Cluster 5 (Chandigarh), Cluster 6 (Howrah), Cluster 7 (Patna) and Cluster 12 (Bengaluru), 11 for Cluster 2 (Mumbai 2), nine each for Cluster 3 (Delhi 1), Cluster 8 (Prayagraj), Cluster 9 (Secunderabad) and Cluster 10 (Jaipur), 10 for Cluster 3 (Delhi 2) and five for Cluster 11 (Chennai).

The firms that have made the applications for the clusters include Arvind Aviation, BHEL, Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarrriles, S.A, Cube Highways and Infrastructure III Pvt Ltd, and Gateway Rail freight Limited. They also include GMR Highways Ltd, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Ltd, and IRB Infrastructure Developers Ltd, L&T Infrastructure Development Projects Ltd, and Malempati Power Private Ltd, among others.

With high footfall and revenue, firms showed the most interest in Delhi and Mumbai clusters. While applications by 19 firms each have been found eligible for the two Mumbai and Delhi clusters, Chandigarh and Chennai clusters had five eligible applicants. The Indian Railways plans to begin private train operations by March 2023, with 12 trains, according to an internal projection. By 2027, the Railways plans to bring in 151 such services.

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