The Indian Railways has inked a supply contract with the Indo-Russian joint venture Kinet Railway Solutions for manufacturing Vande Bharat trains.The development gains significance as concerns have been raised about the viability of the JV in light of fresh US sanctions against senior officials associated with the Russian partners in this joint venture with India’s Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL).As per the agreement with the national transporter, Kinet Railway Solutions will manufacture and maintain 120 Vande Bharat passenger sleeper train sets and also provide maintenance services for 35 years, said a government official.
Kinet Railway Solutions is a joint venture between Metrowagonmash (MWM) and Locomotive Electronic Systems (LES) from Russia and RVNL, the Indian Railways public sector undertaking.
“With this, any concerns about the viability of this partnership have been put to rest,” said another official, who did not wish to be identified.
MWM is a subsidiary of Transmashholding JSC Group (Transmash), a locomotive and rail equipment manufacturer.
On September 14, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) imposed nearly 100 sanctions on Russian elites and the country’s industrial base, financial institutions and technology suppliers.
Among those sanctioned included Russian oligarch Andrei Removich Bokarev, his wife Olga Vladimirovna Syrovatskaya and Transmash.
According to a statement from the OFAC, Bokarev served as president of Transmash and owns or serves on the board of other Russia-based rail-related manufacturing firms.
Kinet Railway Solutions played down the impact of sanctions on the venture.
Responding to a query on the impact of sanctions, Kinet press service said, “No third country sanctions will be able to affect the realisation of the Vande Bharat project in India. Kinet fulfils its obligations under the contract.”
The partnership between MWM, LES and RVNL has been troubled since inception over the majority ownership between the Indian and Russian partners soon after the contract for Vande Bharat trains was awarded.
The dispute delayed the contract signing with the Indian Railways till September, even though bids were opened in March. The Indian Railways had invited bids for Vande Bharat train sets in December 2022 and they were opened in March this year.