Twenty-three firms including Alstom Transport India Ltd, Bombardier Transportation India, Siemens Limited, GMR Infrastructure and some PSUs have shown interest in operating private trains in the country, and they attended a pre-application meeting Wednesday as a first step, the Railways said.
Other companies that attended the meeting on running private trains in 12 clusters included defense PSU BEML, the railways'' IRCTC, the State-run BHEL, Spanish coach and component maker CAF India, Medha Group, which had also bid for the Train-18 project, Sterlite, Bharat Forge, JKB infrastructure and Titagarh Wagons Limited, the national transporter said.
During the meeting, the companies put forth several queries including on flexibility in clusters, eligibility criteria, bidding process, procurement of trains, fares, operations and maintenance, timing of trains and halts.
Officials of the Railways and the NITI Aayog provided clarifications on the queries, the national transporter said in a statement.
The private entities will be selected through a two-stage competitive bidding process comprising Request for Qualification (RFQ) and Request for Proposal (RFP).
The due date for opening of RFQ is September 8.
The pre-application meetings have been designed by the Railways to clarify any queries that prospective private train operators might have before they apply for 'Request for Qualifications''.
The first pre-application meeting was held on July 21 which was attended by 16 players.
The Railways has said that the private players will decide the fares on these trains and there will be no prescribed upper limit.
Responding to the queries, the Railways emphasized that a complete freedom will be given to private players in terms of procurement of trains which can either be purchased or taken on lease.
The Railways also clarified that risks with regard to operation of trains shall be allocated to the parties best suited to manage them.
After the first pre-application conference, the Railways had reduced the RFQ fee by one-tenth for participating in more than one project, removed restriction of up to three projects per bidder and clarified that leasing of trains is allowed.
It had also shared traffic data, draft concession agreement, draft feasibility report and draft manual for standards and specifications of trains.
As part of the Bidding Process, the Railways conducted the second pre-application conference on Wednesday.
The other companies which attended the Wednesday meeting are: Gateway Rail, Hind Rectifiers Limited, Iboard India Private Limited, ISQ ASIA Infrastructure investments PTE. LTD, Jasan Infra Private Limited, L&T Infrastructure Development Projects Ltd (L&T IDPL), Megha Engineering & Infrastructures Limited (MEIL), National Investment and Infrastructure Fund, and PSGG Technologies Pvt Ltd.
The conference started with a discussion on the overview of the terms of the RFQs and contours of the project followed by a detailed exchange on the queries raised by the prospective applicants.
"Applicants queries with regard to the definition of Gross Revenue were also addressed. Regarding haulage charges, MoR (Ministry of Railways) informed the indicative haulage charges @ Rs 512.31 per train km for 2019-20 with indexation," the statement said.
The Railways has invited 12 RFQs for private participation in operation of passenger trains over 109 origin-destination pair of routes through introduction of 151 modern trains (rakes).
These new trains will be in addition to the existing ones operated on the network.
This is the first initiative of private investment for running passenger trains on the Railways network. The project would entail a private sector investment of about Rs 30,000 crore.
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