The project, the first of its kind for IR, is expected to generate private investment worth Rs 300bn ($US 4bn).

The 16-coach trains, hauled by an IR locomotive, will have a maximum speed of 160km/h, and must provide a reduce journey time when compared with existing services. The private partner will be responsible for financing, procuring, operating and maintaining the new coaches, the majority of which must be manufactured in India under the government's “Make in India” policy.

The 109 services will be divided into 12 clusters across the IR network. The private operators will be given a 35-year concession, and will pay IR fixed haulage charges, consumption-based energy charges, and a share of gross revenue determined through a bidding process.

IR will provide the drivers and guards for the trains, while the operator will be responsible for meeting key performance indicators such as punctuality, reliability and upkeep of trains.

Operation and maintenance of the trains will be governed by standards, specifications and requirements specified by IR.

“The objective of this initiative is to introduce modern rolling stock with reduced maintenance and reduced transit time, while boosting job creation, providing enhanced safety and providing world class travel experience to passengers,” IR says.