A total of 23 companies, including some PSUs shown interest in operating private trains in the country as they 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 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, IRCTC Limited, ISQ Asia Infrastructure Investments Private Ltd, Jasan Infra Private Ltd, JKB Infrastructure Private Ltd, L&T Infrastructure Development Projects Ltd, Medha, Megha Engineering and Infrastructures Ltd, National Investment and Infrastructure Fund Limited, PSGG Technologies Pvt Ltd, RK Associates & Hoteliers Private Ltd, Siemens Limited, Sterlite Power and Titagarh Wagons Limited.
In the meeting, which was held virtually, Railway Board Members along with NITI Ayog officials answered the queries raised by the private players during the pre-bid meeting.
"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. The project will augment the availability of transportation services for the public," the Ministry of Railways (MoR) said in a press note.
The Indian Railways said that the 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.
"Post first pre-application conference, Ministry of Railways has 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. MoR has also shared traffic data, draft concession agreement, draft feasibility report and draft manual for standards and specifications of trains etc," the note further read.
The applicants raised queries on a number of issues including flexibility in Clusters, eligibility criteria, bidding Process, procurement of trains, fares, Operations & Maintenance.
Responding to the same, the MoR emphasised that complete freedom will be given to private partners in terms of procurement of trains - can either be purchased or taken on lease. The MoR also clarified that risks with regard to the operation of trains shall be allocated to the parties best suited to manage them. It informed that the private entity shall have the freedom to decide on the fare to be charged from its passengers.
Applicant queries with regard to the definition of gross revenue were also addressed. Regarding haulage charges, the MoR informed the indicative haulage charges at Rs 512.31 per train km for 2019-20 with indexation.
The responses to the second pre-application conference will be uploaded by August 21. The due date for the opening of RFQ is September 8.