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The Ministry of Railways has called tenders for the supply and maintenance of a further 200 Vande Bharat Express trainsets, at an estimated cost of Rs130bn, as part of its strategy to update the Indian Railways passenger fleet.
These tenders are intended to support the government’s objective of rolling out 400 quasi-high speed trains by the end of 2024-25, as announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her 2022-23 budget statement on February 1. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set a target for IR to have 75 Vande Bharat trainsets operating across the country by August 15 2023, to commemorate 75 years of Indian independence.
All-seater trainsets are intended to replace Shatabdi Express and other daytime inter-city services, while a sleeping car variant would replace RajdhaniExpress premium overnight services
Energy efficient trainsThe latest tenders cover two builds of 100 energy-efficient trains, described as ‘fourth-generation’ trainsets. These would have lightweight aluminium bodies and be designed to operate at a maximum speed of 200 km/h, compared to 160 km/h for the earlier batches. A supplier information day is to be held on August 23, and bids must be submitted by November 25.
The winning bidders would be expected to enhance existing facilities and develop additional infrastructure at two nominated manufacturing units: the Integral Coach Factory in Chennai and the Rail Coach Naveenikaran Karkhana at Sonipat in Haryana state. The bidders will also be responsible for developing the depots needed to maintain the trains in service.
The specified delivery period is 84 months, with a minimum of 30 trains to be delivered in the first year, 40 in the second and 50 trains from the third year onwards. ‘We expect manufacturers to take around 18-20 months to come up with a prototype before they can start the series production’, an MoR official explained.
Sleeping car trainsIn April MoR floated a tender for the design and manufacture of 200 Vande Bharat trainsets with sleeping car interiors for overnight operation, which would be manufactured at ICF and the Marathwada Rail Coach Factory at Latur in Maharashtra. The bidding deadline for that tender has recently been extended to October.
The April tender gave the suppliers an option of proposing either steel or aluminium coaches, whereas the latest tender specifies that the other 200 trains must have lightweight aluminium bodies.
IR has also invited leading rolling stock suppliers to develop a fleet of 100 push-pull sleeping car trains, which would have two end power cars rather than the distributed traction used on the Vande Bharat trainsets. Designed for 200 km/h operation, these trainsets would have articulated trailer cars with aluminium bodies. These trains are expected to be deployed on IR’s premier Delhi – Mumbai and Delhi – Kolkata corridors, which are to be rebuilt and resignalled for 160 km/h and eventually 200 km/h operation.
This article first appeared on www.railwaygazette.com
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