Indian Railways has received a total of 120 applications from 15 firms for the 12 clusters in response to the Request for Qualification (RFQ) for PPP in Passenger Train Operations Project worth Rs300bn ($4.08bn).

The Ministry of Railways (MOR) said that this is the first major initiative to attract private investment for running passenger trains over Indian Railway Network.

MOR published the RFQ for the clusters on 1 July 2020. These clusters comprise 140 origin destination pair of routes by introducing 151 modern trains to increase the number of high-quality trains operating on the network.

The companies that have applied are Megha Engineering and Infrastructures, Sainath Sales and Services, IRB Infrastructure Developers, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism, GMR Highways, Welspun Enterprises, Gateway Rail Freight, Cube Highways and Infrastructure III and Malempati Power Private.

L&T Infrastructure Development Projects, RK Associates and Hoteliers, Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarrriles, PNC Infratech, Arvind Aviation and BHEL also applied for the clusters.

A transparent two-stage competitive bidding process will be held to select the private entities for undertaking the project.

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The process consists of a Request for Qualification (RFQ) and Request for Proposal (RFP).

After completion of the evaluation of applications, the RFP documents will be made available to the qualified applicants by next month.

All the clusters are expected to be awarded by February next year.

In a separate development, the Union Cabinet gave consent for the railway ministry’s proposal to build the Kolkata East-West Metro Corridor project at Rs85.75bn ($1.16bn) revised cost.

The route under the project will have a total length of 16.6km and consist of 12 stations.