Private companies operating passenger trains have freedom to lease or purchase rolling stock: Railway ministry

NEW DELHI: Private companies looking to operate passenger trains in the country, will be given complete freedom to procure trains, whether they want to purchase, or lease them, the railway ministry has clarified.

This would evince wider participation in the tender, since companies without a rolling stock manufacturing capacity will not be deterred by any obligation to own the rakes.

Companies interested in operating passenger trains raised queries on a number of issues including flexibility in Clusters, eligibility criteria, bidding Process, procurement of trains, fares, Operations and Maintenance, during a pre application conference organised by the railway ministry on Wednesday.

“Responding to the same, the ministry of railways has emphasized that complete freedom will be given to private partners in terms of procurement of trains – can either be purchased or taken on lease,” a government statement said.

The ministry also clarified that risks with regard to operation of trains shall be allocated to the parties best suited to manage them. Similarly, private entities shall have the freedom to decide on the fare to be charged from its passengers, and that no upper limit for passenger fares has been set.

While companies are free to manufacture their own rakes, they will have to meet the Schedule of Dimensions specified by the Indian Railways, and most players are interested in procuring the rakes, a senior official told ET.

“These trains have to be fit for operating at 160 kilometres per hour, setting up new manufacturing for a single rake could be too cumbersome,” the official said.

As many as 23 companies, including Bombardier, Alstom, Siemens, NIIF, GMR, ISquared Capital are in the race for operating private passenger trains in the country. These bidders were present at the second pre-application meeting.

BEML, Bharat Forge,BHEL, CAF India Pvt. Ltd., Gateway Rail, Hind Rectifiers Limited, I-Board India Pvt Ltd, IRCTC Limited, ISQ ASIA INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENTS PTE LTD, JASAN INFRA PVT Ltd., JKB Infrastructure Pvt Ltd, L&T, Medha Engineering, National Investment and Infrastructure Fund, PSGG Technologies Pvt Ltd, R.K. Associates & Hoteliers Pvt. Ltd, Sterlite Power, Titagarh Wagons were among other companies present at the meeting.

In July this year, the railway ministry invited Request for Qualifications for private participation in the operation of passenger train services over 109 Origin Destination pairs of routes through the introduction of 151 modern trains.

The initiative aims to improve the availability of transportation services provided by the railways, introducing modern rolling stock, boost job opportunities and new services for overall better travel experience of passengers.

Private trains are being introduced to reduce the demand-supply gap in passenger travel. Private trains are expected to be operational in a staggered manner from April 2023 and procurement will be done strictly under the ‘Make in India’ policy, officials have said.


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