Railway Privatization: In a strong response to the Indian Railways plan to allow private operators to run train on select routes, 23 companies, including some PSUs, have shown interest in running the private trains. These 23 companies participated in the second pre-application conference for Public-Private Partnership (PPP) in passenger trains project organised by the Ministry of Railways on Wednesday.
The participants included big Indian and foreign firms such as Alstom Transport India Limited (Ltd), BEML, Bharat Forge, BHEL, Bombardier Transportation India, CAF India Private Ltd, Gateway Rail, GMR Infrastructure Ltd, Hind Rectifiers Limited, I-Board India Pvt Ltd, and IRCTC Limited.
In addition to these, other companies like Hyderabad based Megha Engineering and Infrastructures Ltd, ISQ Asia Infrastructure Investments Private Ltd, Jasan Infra Private Ltd, JKB Infrastructure Private Ltd, L&T Infrastructure Development Projects Ltd, National Investment and Infrastructure Fund Limited, PSGG Technologies Pvt Ltd, RK Associates & Hoteliers Private Ltd, Siemens Limited, Sterlite Power and Titagarh Wagons Limited also participated in the virtual meeting.
Railway Board Members along with NITI Ayog officials answered the queries raised by the private players during the pre-bid meeting.
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Railway Privatization in India
“The Project for Private Participation in Passenger Train Operations will bring in a paradigm shift in passenger experience by significantly enhancing the quality of service while reducing transit time and supply-demand deficit through the introduction of modern technology rolling stock,” Railway Ministry said following the meeting.
Indian Railways said the project will augment the availability of transportation services for the public.
The national transporter said private partners for undertaking the project will be selected through a two-stage competitive bidding process comprising of Request for Qualification (RFQ) and Request for Proposal (RFP).
The first pre-application conference was held on July 21, 2020.
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Railways Ministry also reduced the RFQ fee by one-tenth for participating in more than one project, removed the restriction of up to 3 projects per bidder and clarified that leasing of trains is allowed.
The ministry also shared traffic data, draft concession agreement, draft feasibility report and draft manual for standards and specifications of trains etc with the participating companies.
According to officials, these companies also raised queries on a number of issues including flexibility in clusters, eligibility criteria, bidding process, procurement of trains, fares, and operations and maintenance, among other things.
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Private Trains in India set to start operation
Indian Railways assured the participating companies that complete freedom would be given to private partners in terms of procurement of trains, they can either purchase the rolling stock or take them on lease from Indian Railways.
Railway officials also clarified that risks with regard to the operation of trains would be allocated to the parties best suited to manage them.
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Railway officials also clarified the definition of gross revenue as it has become a contentious issue in the telecom sector.
People familiar with the matter said that the responses to the second pre-application conference would be uploaded by August 21, and RFQs are likely to opened on September 8.
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