At least 13 players – including GMR, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), L&T Infrastructure Development Projects, Bharat Heavy Electricals and Welspun Enterprises – have been shortlisted by the Indian Railways for operating private trains in 12 clusters.
The operators would be selected after the requests for proposals (RFP) are submitted with a revenue share quote. The requests for qualification (RFQ) for 12 clusters were published on July this year. The applications were opened on October 7.
Other companies that are in the fray include PNC Infratech, Cube Highways and Infrastructure, Megha Engineering & Infrastructures, IRB Infrastructure Developers, a consortium of Gateway Rail Freight and Gateway Distriparks, a consortium of Malempati Power and Techno Infra Developers, a consortium of Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles, S.A, CAF India and CAF Investment Projects, S.A and consortium of RK Associates & Hoteliers and Omaxe.
The ministry of railways (MOR) had invited RFQ for private participation in the operation of passenger train services in 12 clusters comprising more than 150 origin destination pair of routes through the introduction of 151 modern trains. This is the first major initiative of attracting private investment for running passenger trains over the Indian railway network. The project would entail a private sector investment of about Rs 30,000 crore.
The issues and concerns on the provisions of RFQ and bidding framework raised by the prospective applicants were discussed and clarifications were provided by the officials of the Ministry of Railways and NITI Aayog. The queries were mainly related to eligibility criteria, bid process, procurement of rakes, operations of trains and composition of clusters.
There were already concerns regarding the plan to operate these trains at a maximum speed of 160 kilometre per hour (kmph), as the Indian railway tracks are not suited for it.