The indigenously designed semi high-speed Vande Bharat trains have unmistakably emerged as the next major leap for the Indian Railways (IR).
With the government prioritising introduction of more Vande Bharat trains in the next few years, IR in June 2022 had floated bids for the manufacture of 200 trainsets of sleeper version.
The trainsets will be manufactured at the two Railway’s manufacturing facilities: Chennai-based Integral Coach Factory (ICF) and Marathwada Rail Coach Factory (MRCF) at Latur.
Five players including French railway major Alstom, Russia’s Tranmashholding (TMH), Germany’s Siemens, and Indian firms - Medha Servo Drives Ltd, and BHEL have put in their bids for supply of these trains in the next three to five years.
While Alstom has entered the race alone, TMH has partnered with Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL), a railway PSU and Siemens has joined forces with BEML Ltd, a defence PSU.
Medha has joined hands with Swiss railway rolling stock manufacturer Stadler Rail and Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL), a major PSU, has joined hands with Titagarh Wagons.
In this report, we take a look at the technical capabilities of all the five bidders and their previous experience in dealing with Vande Bharat (VB) trains .
Hyderabad-based Medha Servo Drives Ltd. has a vast expertise in designing and manufacturing components and systems for railway applications.
The company has so far got most of the orders for manufacturing of VB trains. It got a Rs 2,211 crore contract for supplying 44 VB trains in January 2021 and 26 trains in March 2022.
Medha Servo recently entered into a joint venture (JV) with Swiss railway rolling stock manufacturer Stadler Rail for a new rail coach manufacturing factory in Telangana.
The JV, in which Stadler Rail will hold majority, will invest Rs 1,000 crore over a period of two years into manufacturing facility.
The new facility will cater to the tenders not only from the Indian market but will also be used to make exports to customers across the Asia Pacific region.
A Maharatna company, BHEL, is the largest engineering and manufacturing enterprise in the energy and infrastructure sector and has been designing and manufacturing rolling stock for rail and urban transportation.
The company’s Bhopal unit is currently establishing a state-of-the-art design, engineering and manufacturing facility to cater the requirement of Trainsets for semi high-speed Rail transportation.
Headquartered in Kolkata, West Bengal, Titagarh is the first private company in India engaged in the manufacturing of trains for the Indian Railways since 2007.
Titagarh has supplied in excess of 250 transit systems to Indian Railways, which is the highest by any private rolling stock manufacturer in India.
BHEL, in June 2022, had invited Expression of Interest (EoI) for strategic-tie ups with consortium Partner for the supply of 200 Vande Bharat Trains.
Based on this EoI, BHEL has formed a consortium with Titagarh Wagons and is among five entities which have bid for the mega Rs 58,000 crore contract.
It should be noted that while Titagarh Wagons is currently in the process of supplying one VB rake, BHEL has received an order for supply of four rakes as part of March 2022 work order.
Notably, BHEL and RVNL have signed an MoU in August 2022 to jointly work in the field of infrastructure and project execution, in India and abroad, through synergy of their respective capabilities.
TMH Group is the largest rolling stock manufacturer in Russia and ranks fifth globally.
On the other hand, RVNL is in the business of executing all types of railway projects including new lines, doubling, gauge conversion, railway electrification, metro projects, but has no experience in rolling stock.
The current consortium combines the global strength of TMH with the expertise of RVNL in India’s rail network.
Siemens is the leading supplier of innovative rolling stock technology to the Indian rail industry. In India, Siemens introduced the Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistors Portfolio Locomotives (IGBT)-based propulsion and is also a pioneer in energy-saving products.
The company is currently engaged in rolling out 16 VB trains as part of March 2022 order in partnership with Modern Coach Factory, Raebareli.
BEML is the first company in India to manufacture all steel integral passenger rail coaches and other rolling stock requirements of Indian railways.
The Siemens-BEML Joint venture leverages the proven global design concept from Siemens that offers best-in-class passenger experience and easy maintenance.
Synonymous with the country’s ‘Rail Revolution’, Alstom is a major strategic partner in supporting India’s freight revolution and passenger movement.
The global transportation behemoth has been manufacturing India’s most powerful electric locomotive (12000 HP) besides carrying out rolling stock maintenance, rail electrification, and signalling projects.
As part of the March 2022 order by the national carrier for supply of 58 VB trains, Alstom will supply 9 VB trains in partnership with Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala.
The company did not participate in the first tender, following a disagreement with the supply clause in the tender document.
The tender evaluation committee now would carry out technical evaluation of each bid followed by opening of the financial bids in the next 45 days.
According to the tender documents, while the lowest bidder will get the work order to manufacture 120 trainsets at Latur unit, the second lowest bidder would be producing 80 trainsets at ICF Chennai.
Though the capacity of Siemens, Alstom and Medha for manufacturing the Vande Bharat trainsets is well known, the same is not much known about BHEL, RVNL and Titagarh.
While the inclusion of private players in the mega task of manufacturing a total 502 Vande Bharat trains in the next three years is a welcome change, much will depend on who is selected as the technology partner.
The railway industry is generally enthused with Indian Railways' push to acquire modern rolling stock, but there are some reservations in their procurement policy to engage multiple players.
“It is always good to have two suppliers but splitting up the contract between various companies could cause delays in project execution,” said former General Manager, ICF Chennai, Sudhanshu Mani, known as the innovator of the Vande Bharat trains (Train 18).
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