- Nearly 16 companies, including GMR Group, Sterlite Power, Bharat Forge, RITES, CAF, took part in pre-application conference on running private trains
- Prospective bidders raised queries related to eligibility criteria, bid process, procurement of rakes, operations of trains and composition of clusters
- Railway Ministry has clarified that trains to be operated under the project can be either purchased or taken on lease by the private entities
- Ministry will also be providing the details of passenger traffic being handled on the routes under biding
Reliable sources said that Gateway Rail, Hind Rectifiers Ltd and wagon manufacturer Titagarh Wagons also attended the meeting.
In an official statement, the Railway Ministry said that the conference received an overwhelming response.
The prospective bidders raised various issues during the meeting and sought clarity on them. Besides senior Railway Ministry officials, NITI Aayog officials were also present in the pre-bid meeting.
While it did not reveal the names of prospective bidders, the Railway Ministry in a press statement said that queries raised by the interested parties were mainly related to eligibility criteria, bid process, procurement of rakes, operations of trains and composition of clusters.
"There were queries on haulage charges for which the Ministry of Railways has replied that haulage charges will be specified upfront and will be suitably indexed for the entire concession period thereby bringing certainty in the haulage charges," the Railways said.
The Railways will also be providing the details of passenger traffic being handled on the routes under biding. This will enable bidders to undertake their due diligence in the project.
The Ministry of Railways has clarified that trains to operate under the project can be either purchased or taken on lease by the private entities. The Ministry of Railways has also clarified that risks with regard to operation of trains shall be allocated to the parties in an equitable manner.
"Ministry of Railways will be providing written replies to the queries received from the prospective applicants by July 31, 2020. The second pre-application conference is scheduled on August 12, 2020," it said.
Seeking private investment of about Rs 30,000 crore, Indian Railways had earlier this month invited bids from private companies for running passenger trains on 109 pairs (origin-destination) of routes. The concession period for the project shall be 35 years and the private firms would be responsible for financing, procuring, operation and maintenance of the trains.
The selected private companies will pay to Indian Railways fixed haulage charges, energy charges as per actual consumption, and a share in gross revenue determined through the bidding process.
The proposed trains are required to be designed for a maximum speed of 160 kmph. The running time taken by a train shall be comparable to or faster than the fastest train of Indian Railways operating in the respective route. Most coaches have to be manufactured in India.
As many as 27 local and global private firms including Tata Realty & Infrastructure Ltd, Adani Ports & SEZ, Bombardier, Alstom, Hyundai Rotem Company had earlier participated in the meeting called by Indian Railways to discuss privatisation of train operations.
Global rolling stock manufacturers Talgo and CAF had also attended the stakeholder meet earlier this year.
"Some of the players may not have attended the meeting today thinking to guard their identities. They will eventually participate," said an industry executive.