Indian Railways to introduce 40 new Vande Bharat Express by 2022. Piyush Goyal-led Railway Ministry has finalised the new timeline for manufacturing the Train 18 sets and also started a tendering process for the same. According to officials, earlier this year, the production of these self-propelled engine-less train sets was stopped over allegations of favoritism and lack of transparency. But after Railway Minister Piyush Goyal’s intervention, the Railway Board has started the new tendering process for resuming the production of Vande Bharat Express trains. A tender is likely to be out by the month of October for the propulsion system of the trains.
According to a railway official, Indian Railways is going for more transparent procedure as over two dozen complaints have been received by the national transporter about favouritism where tenders were allegedly prepared to benefit one firm in the production of the first two rakes of Vande Bharat Express. Indian Railways is planning to give enough time to companies, and the firm which quotes the minimum amount will get the tender, the official said. The national transporter is looking for the delivery of Vande Bharat Express train sets by mid-2022 and by that year-end, 40 more Train 18 sets should be up and running, the official added.
The Integral Coach Factory (ICF) in Chennai, which manufactured the first two Vande Bharat Express rakes, scrapped all tenders in the month of June for the third rake amid the controversy. On July 2, the Railway Minister met representatives of manufacturers and promised a transparent level-playing field to all of them. Another railway official was quoted saying that Indian Railways agreed to give reasonable time for submission of bids on the basis of the feedback received by the industry.
The manufacturers of Vande Bharat Express have been asked to follow the ‘Make in India’ policy and they also have been told that some imports could be permitted provided that the manufacturing units are located in India. According to the report, the tender will be floated by Indian Railways in October and the supply of rakes will begin by July 2021.
At present, only one Vande Bharat Express runs between Delhi and Varanasi. The country’s second Train 18 is likely to run between Delhi and Katra, however, no official date has been announced for its launch.
Vande Bharat Express is India’s first semi-high speed self-propelled train set that marks a technological leap in Indian Railways operations. The engine-less train allows for faster acceleration and deceleration, hence reducing travel time on a route by 40%. The train became India’s fastest at 180 kmph during trials, even though its maximum operational speed is 160 kmph. The train offers world-class onboard comforts and has already generated export interest.
Source: Financial Express
Image Source: The Hindu