Indian Railways on Wednesday, July 1, formally kick-started its plans to allow private entities to operate passenger trains on its network.
The project that would reportedly entail a private sector investment of about Rs 30,000 crore is the first step towards private investment to boost the Railways.
The national transporter said that it has invited request for qualifications (RFQ) for participation on 109 pairs of routes through 151 modern trains.
The 109 origin-destination routes have been formed into 12 clusters across the Indian Railway network. Each train shall have a minimum of 16 coaches, it further added.
"The objective of this initiative is to introduce modern technology rolling stock with reduced maintenance, reduced transit time, boost job creation, provide enhanced safety, provide world-class travel experience to passengers," the Railways said.
The Railways detailed on the process that would be followed. It stated that the majority of these modern trains would be manufactured in India under 'Make In India' and the private players would be responsible for financing, procuring, operating and maintenance of such trains.
"Trains shall be designed for a maximum speed of 160 kmph. There would be a substantial reduction in journey time. The running time taken by a train shall be comparable to or faster than the fastest train of the Indian Railways operating in the respective route," it said.
Additionally, the concession period for the project shall be 35 years and the private entity shall pay the Indian Railways fixed haulage charges, energy charges as per actual consumption and a share in gross revenue which would be determined through a transparent bidding process.
As per the national carrier, these trains shall be operated by the driver and guard of Indian Railways. The operation of the trains by the private entity shall conform to the key performance indicators like punctuality, reliability, upkeep of trains etc.