102 Vande Bharat trains to be operational by March 2024

Railways to procure components from only Indian suppliers.

Updated - August 30, 2021 08:16 pm IST

Published - August 30, 2021 04:40 pm IST - CHENNAI

A view of the Vande Bharat Express train. Photograph used for representational purposes only

A view of the Vande Bharat Express train. Photograph used for representational purposes only

The Railways plans to operate 102 Vande Bharat trains by March 2024.

Days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the operation of 75 Vande Bharat trains, the Ministry of Railways has floated tenders for manufacturing 58 rakes, each comprising 16 coaches. Tenders have already been floated for making 44 rakes.

Railway officials say 102 Vande Bharat trains would be commissioned by early 2024. The Train18, later named Vande Bharat Express, was rolled out by the Integral Coach Factory, Chennai. It was showcased as India’s first semi high-speed train with an operational efficiency of 160 kmph and a game-changer.

On the occasion of the 75th Independence Day celebrations, Mr. Modi said 75 Vande Bharat trains would be operationalised to connect different parts of the country.

Sufficient local capacity

In the fresh tenders, the Ministry of Railways insisted on the compliance of the Public Procurement (Preference to Make in India) Order 2017, and said there was “sufficient local capacity and competition in supply of the tendered item in required quantity and therefore public procurement of this items is restricted to Class-I Local Suppliers only”.

The new tender published on Saturday invited bids for design, development, manufacture and supply of equipment for three-phase propulsion and components for train sets as per Research Design & Standards Organisation specifications. Of the 58 rakes of 16-car composition, 30 would be rolled out from the ICF, Chennai, 14 from the Modern Coach Factory, Raebareli and 14 from the Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala.

While contractors should certify the percentage of local (fully indigenous) components and imported items, the tender conditions laid down that the eligibility for bidders from a country that shared land border with India to participate in the tender would be governed by the Public Procurement Orders of the Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance.

Though the Vande Bharat train was celebrated as one of the most successful products of the “Make in India” mission, it ran into a controversy over allegations of compromises on safety bringing production of more rakes to a grinding halt.

There were also allegations that one company was favoured in the making of the first two rakes leading to the railway vigilance officials registering cases against several officials.

Almost the entire team that made the first rake, including then Principal Chief Mechanical Engineer Shubhranshu, was shifted out of the ICF to insignificant posts though the vigilance cases were subsequently closed by the Central Vigilance Commission, railway sources said.

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