New Delhi: Bombardier, CAF, Vedanta, GMR Group, Bharat Forge, Sterlite Power and RITES are among 16 companies that took part in the first pre-application conference for running private trains in India Tuesday, ThePrint has learnt.
In line with the Narendra Modi government’s decision to privatise 151 trains in the country, these companies have shown interest in running private trains, said sources in the Indian Railways. The companies attended the conference to raise issues and seek clarifications.
“The issues and concerns raised by the prospective applicants were discussed and clarifications were provided by the officials of Ministry of Railways and NITI Aayog for improved clarity on the provisions of RFQ (request for qualifications) and bidding framework,” the Ministry of Railways said in a statement.
According to the schedule, the Railways will respond to the first set of queries by these companies by 31 July, and open up another round of queries which will close on 7 August.
A second conference with interested companies will be held on 12 August, following which the Railways will send in responses to the queries raised by companies. The firms will be required to send in their applications by 8 September. The Railways will then announce the shortlisted applicants within 60 days.
The government took the first step in divesting its near-total monopoly in the Railways on 1 July, inviting RFQ for private players for the operation of passenger train services on 109 origin destination pairs of routes through the introduction of 151 modern trains.
In the meeting held Tuesday, there were queries on haulage charges, which the ministry said will be specified upfront and will be suitably indexed for the entire concession period, thereby bringing certainty in the charges, according to the sources.
The ministry will also provide the companies details of the passenger traffic being handled on the routes under biding, thereby enabling bidders to undertake their due diligence on the project.
According to sources, the national transporter would be introducing private trains in phases, with the first dozen projected to run in the financial year 2023-24 and all 151 by 2027.
“It may be noted that private trains are slated to run from March 2023 only. Tenders will be finalised by March 2021 and trains will operate from March 2023,” the ministry said in a statement Sunday.