Ramakrishna Forging Consortium with Titagarh Wagons Limited has emerged as the lowest bidder leaving behind Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) and Bharat Forge in the Make-in-India project, involving manufacturing and supply of 80,000 forged wheels every year for 20 years.
While Ramkrishna Forging Consortium with Titagarh Wagons Limited quoted Rs 12,226 crore, Bharat Forge quoted Rs 17,875 crore, and SAIL quoted Rs 18,817.5 crore.
The wheels would be required for semi-high-speed and high-speed trains.
While the estimated cost of setting up a production unit is about Rs 1,000 crore, the volume of business is expected to be over Rs 15,000 crore for the company.
According to the bidding documents, in the first three years, the selected bidder would be required to manufacture a total of 80,000 wheels, and after that, the requirement would be 80,000 wheels yearly.
The selected bidder would be expected to set up facilities for the manufacturing and testing of wheels at the wheel factory and for the machining of wheels, axles, and assembly of wheels and axles.
The procurement would be done in line with the Make-in-India policy.
Besides, the selected bidder would also be required to set up a wheel test centre at a railway site, for prototype testing of newly designed wheels.
Aiming to reduce the dependence on wheel import, Indian Railways had floated a tender in September inviting interested players to set up a factory in the country, to manufacture forged wheels for semi-high speed and high-speed trains.
As an assured offtake, the Railways would procure nearly 80,000 forged train wheels at the cost of Rs 600 crore per year from the proposed facility.
In line with the Make-in-India initiative, the factory would be allowed to export the forged wheels to Europe and other countries, after supplying the products to the Railways.
Until now, Indian Railways was mostly dependent on Europe to import forged wheels for its requirement.
Since the European market is badly affected by the Ukraine war, India can prepare itself to export the wheels manufactured in the country.
Since the Railways is finalising the contract orders for manufacturing 400 Vande Bharat trains in the first phase, there would be a requirement of 200,000 forged wheels. Out of this, Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd has a capacity of 80,000 wheels.
So with the proposed plant, the Railways would bridge the gap through this project.
The issue came to the fore after the national transporter placed an order for 39,000 semi-forged wheels last year with a Chinese company, citing disrupted European supply chains on account of the Russia-Ukraine war.
Forged wheels are specially-designed wheels, built at high-pressure for trains running at higher speeds than regular Indian Railways trains.
Arun Kumar Das is a senior journalist covering railways. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
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