New Delhi, India (Urban Transport News): Indian Railways is now planning to seek assistance from private players for the construction and operations of the proposed seven new high-speed rail (bullet train) projects in India.
The proposed high-speed rail projects viz. Delhi-Varanasi, Mumbai-Nagpur, Delhi-Ahmedabad, Chennai-Mysore, Delhi-Amritsar, Mumbai-Hyderabad, and Varanasi-Howrah are expected to cost around Rs 10 trillion.
According to Railway Board Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Vinod Kumar Yadav, all the seven new bullet train routes will be open for private players and Indian Railways will be doing it on a public-private-partnership model. These seven routes will be in addition to the already planned Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed rail project.
"It is estimated that Indian Railways would need the capital investment of around ₹ 50 lakh crore up to 2030 for network expansion and capacity augmentation, rolling stock induction, and other modernization works to enable better delivery of passenger and freight services and to improve its modal share in transport. To bridge the gap in capital funding and to induct modern technologies and improve efficiencies, it is being planned to use the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model for a few initiatives. One of the PPP initiatives is to invite private players to invest and induct modern rakes over select routes to provide world-class services to the passengers," said in the official statement issued by the Ministry of Railways.
"As part of this initiative, the Ministry of Railways has issued 12 Requests for Qualification (RFQs) on 1st July 2020 for the operation of passenger trains over approximately 109 origin-destination pairs (divided into 12 clusters) through PPP on Design, Build, Finance and Operate (“DBFO”) basis. However, the responsibility of train operations and safety certification rests with Indian Railways in all such cases," added in the statement.
The Railway is also trying to attract private players for its Rs 1-trillion station redevelopment and Rs 30,000 crore private train project to upgrade the railway infrastructure.
Talking about the user fee, he said that once the stations were in place, user fees would be charged from passengers using at least 15 percent of the 7,000 railway stations in the country. These stations will be modernized in some form or the other and this move is likely to raise train fares at these stations.
According to Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog, for private trains, the operators will have the freedom to set rates for private trains and the fixed haulage charges that railways will be getting will be indexed to the wholesale price index (WPI).