China is set to export its domestically built trains for the first time for Mumbai's Metro Rail project, officials said on Sunday.

A fleet of 18 trains, custom-made for the conditions and track requirements of Mumbai's new subway system, which is scheduled to open later this year, are nearing completion in the eastern city of Nanjing. The trains were recently inspected by the Mumbai Metro Rail project officials.

The CSR Nanjing Puzhen Rolling Stock company signed a deal in Mumbai in May 2008 to supply 18 trains for the new subway system. The deal, worth around $100 million, is the biggest-ever contract for underground trains signed by a Chinese firm.

Zhao Dabin, the company's vice-president, said the trains had to be specially designed to suit conditions in Mumbai, taking into account high humidity as well as possible over-crowding. “Mumbai is a populous coastal city that is consistently hot and humid. This train has been built to be waterproof, shock-resistant and insulate noise,” he told the official China Central Television.

Huang Wenjie, a designer at the company, said Chinese engineers faced many challenges in designing the train to suit Mumbai's requirements. Unlike trains used in local rail networks in China, stronger steel was used for this fleet, he said, as they expected the trains in Mumbai to require a larger passenger capacity. The fully-automated trains are also designed to withstand the brunt of the Mumbai summer, and can run at temperatures up to 55 degrees Celsius.

Surjit Madan, vice-president of Mumbai Metro One Private Limited, who along with a group of officials inspected the trains in Nanjing last week, told the State media that he was satisfied with the design. “[The Chinese engineers] had never done a stainless steel car body, so it was a big challenge for CSR Nanjing. But they have done it very well,” he said.

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