Indian Railways is reportedly reviewing the ongoing bidding procedure for its $4.05bn (Rs300bn) tender for the operation of private passenger trains.

In July 2020, the Indian Ministry of Railways invited private entities to operate 151 new trains.

These trains were planned to run on more than 109 origin-destination (OD) pairs of routes.

It grouped the 109 OD pairs into 12 clusters across the rail network, with each of the trains featuring a minimum of 16 coaches.

Winning bidders were to be offered a concession period of 35 years on a revenue basis model.

However, according to the rail operator, this tender has not received much interest from private entities.

Of the 12 clusters launched for bids, only three saw any bid at all.

A government official was quoted by The Economic Times as saying: “The entire process of inviting tenders for the private passenger train operations is being re-evaluated. The present process bids may or may not be scrapped after the review is complete.”

During the request for qualifications (RFQ) last year, around 16 private sector companies expressed interest in the private train project.

The firms included GMR Highways, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation, IRB Infrastructure Developers, and CAF India Private.

Engagement dropped significantly in the recently held RFP stage (financial bidding), with the participation of only two bidders.

Earlier this month, Indian Railways’ green fuel vertical Indian Railways Organisation of Alternate Fuel (IROAF) launched bids for the development of a hydrogen fuel cell-based train on Indian Railways network.

This project is expected to promote the concept of hydrogen mobility in India.