Pune based Bharat Forge among 23 companies interested to run private trains

Locomotive Indian Railway
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Sushant Ranjan

Pune, August 13, 2020: Around 23 companies are in the fray to run private trains. Indian Railways on Wednesday held a second pre-application conference to run private trains in the country whereas many as 23 companies participated. The companies including Bombardier, Alstom, Siemens, GMR and Pune based Bharat Forge, have shown interest in operating private trains. Indian Railways gave its information on Wednesday.

Railways said that these companies attended a meeting in this regard before the application process on August 12. BEML, IRCTC, BHEL, CAF, Medha Group, Sterlite, JKB Infrastructure and Titagarh Wagons Limited were also present in this meeting who have intended to bid to run private trains in 12 clusters.

How many trains and how many routes?
Indian Railway has invited companies for private partnership in operating passenger trains on 109 routes through 151 modern trains (rakes). These new trains will be an addition to the trains already running on the network. This is the first private investment initiative to run passenger trains on the railway network. It is estimated that private investment of about Rs 30,000 crores will be received from this project.

What happened in the meeting?
The applicants intending to run private trains raised many queries before the railway authority. For example, queries were related to flexibility in clusters, eligibility criteria, bidding process, purchase of trains, the fare of trains, operation and maintenance. However, the railway ministry responded by stressing that private buyers will be given complete freedom in the matter of purchase of trains – either train can be bought or leased. The ministry also clarified that private train operators will have the freedom to fix the fare to be charged from their passengers.

When will private trains start?
The government stated that private trains will run in the country from March 2023. Tenders for this will be finalised by March 2021. Most private trains will be built in India under Make in India.

Companies bidding for the project
Alstom Transport India Limited, BEML, Bharat Forge, BHEL, Bombardier Transport Injia, CAF India Private Limited, Gateway Rail, GMR Infrastructure Limited, Hind Rectifier Limited, I-Bond India Private Limited, IRCTC Limited, ISQ Asia Infrastructure Investment Private Limited, Jasan Infra Private Limited, JKB Infrastructure Private Limited, L&T Infrastructure Development Projects Limited, Medha, Megha Engineering and Infrastructure Limited, National Investment and Infrastructure Fund Limited, PSGG Technologies Private Limited, RK Associates and Hoteliers Private Limited, Siemens Limited, Sterlite Power and Titagarh Wagons Ltd.

What is the draft of the private train?
As per a draft specification for private trains, these private trains should have electronic sliding doors, windows with safety glass, emergency talk-back mechanism, passenger monitoring system and information and destination boards. These are some of the features that the Railways have demanded from private operators for these trains.

The draft was shared by the railways on Wednesday. It states that these trains will provide noise-free travel to passengers and will be able to run at a speed of 160 kmph. They said that the trains will be designed in a way that they can safely operate at a maximum speed of 180 kilometres per hour during the test.