Indian Railways Drafts In Three Production Companies To Speed Up Manufacturing Of Vande Bharat Trains
Vande Bharat trains to be simultaneously manufactured at three production units to enable the railways to meet delivery schedule.
Indian Railways has said that it has drafted in not one but three railway production companies to speed up manufacturing of Vande Bharat trains amid reports of delay in rolling out these train sets.
The trains will now be simultaneously manufactured in three production units —
the Railway Coach Factory in Kapurthala, the Modern Coach Factory in Rae Bareilly and the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) in Chennai, Railway Board Chairman V K Yadav said.
Vande Bharat Express, India's first indigenously-built semi-high speed train, was successfully rolled out from ICF in Chennai in February 2019, followed by another in October 2019.
After the roaring success of the Vande Bharat Express, the railways decided to go for 44 more such trains in its efforts to provide better amenities and comfortable journey to passengers across the country.
However, the ICF, which has floated a tender for the proposed Vande Bharat trains, in a letter to the Railway Board, has said that the process to roll out these 44 trains could take up to 78 months to complete which means there would be no new Vande Bharat trains before 2027.
According to the 14 July letter, ICF said it would take 28 months to introduce the prototype rakes into commercial service.
Additionally, it would take six months to start the series production, and subsequently, the supply of series equipment of each of the 44 rakes would take one month each.
So the whole process would take up to 78 months to complete, the ICF estimated.
Since the ICF letter created doubts over the Vande Bharat delivery schedule, the railways came out with a detailed plan involving three production units to speed up the manufacturing of train sets.
Terming the letter as "internal communication", Yadav said, “internal communications are meant for making the decision. We want to assure you we will come up with a definite time schedule.”
The AC train, known as "Train-18", is a plush 16-coach, self-propelled train, which doesn’t have a locomotive.
He further said, "a decision was taken some months back that the three manufacturing units of the railways will produce these trains thereby reducing the time taken to roll them out by one-third. The 44 trains will start running in the next two to three years. Once the tender is finalised, a definite timeline will be made available."
Vande Bharat was built at a cost of about Rs 100 crore, and has been operational on Delhi-Varanasi and Delhi-Katra routes.
"The ICF assessment was internal. The internal assessment was a normal timetable they (ICF) had drawn for themselves… And the Indian Railways had already taken a decision three-four months ago that the ICF, the Rail Coach Factory and the Modern Coach Factory will together manufacture the Vande Bharat trains,” Yadav said.
All the coaches are equipped with automatic doors, a GPS-based passenger information system, and free Wi-Fi. But the Wi-Fi can only be used to access select entertainment content provided by the railways.
The toilets are bio-vacuum type, similar to those on airplanes. On the downside, the chair car seats are not very comfortable, though the leg space is adequate.
In contrast, the executive class seats are plush and can rotate 180 degrees. Every coach has a pantry with facilities to serve hot meals, and hot or cold beverages. The coaches are also well insulated from outside noise.
This article first appeared on India InfraHub and has been republished here with permission.
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