Leaving ICF surprised, international companies stay away from Vande Bharat express tender
CHENNAI: The Chennai-based Integral Coach Factory (ICF) has invited bids for procurement of electric traction kits for Train 18, the country’s... more...
first self-propelled train without locomotives.
However, none of the top international coach making companies have participated in the bidding.
Sources privy to the issue said it's a huge embarrassment for ICF that its product did not attract bidders from top international brands.
Train 18 was manufactured by ICF, which is owned by the Indian Railways, with over 80 percent indigenous materials and was rolled out in October 2018 amidst much fanfare.
The train, which was later rechristened as Vande Bharat express, was introduced between New Delhi and Varanasi in February last year. A few months later, the second train was introduced between New Delhi and Katra.
However, the train manufacturing faced controversy after a section of railways officials raised complaints against ICF officials citing procedural lapses and changes in the specification of the trains. Followed by this, the railway board ordered ICF to stop the production of Train 18 rakes temporarily.
In November 2019, the railway board gave a go-ahead to ICF to resume the manufacturing of this semi high-speed train.
Subsequently, the ICF had called for bids for procuring electric traction kits for 44 train sets. Each set of trains has got 16 coaches.
Interestingly, none of the international coach manufacturing companies including Alstom, Bombardier, Talgo, Mitsubishi or Siemens have participated in the bidding which was opened recently.
The coach production cost was estimated at several hundred crores. "A total of six companies – a Chinese based joint venture and five Indian companies have participated in the bidding process. The process of finalising the bidder just started," said an official from ICF. The successful bidder has to supply the propulsion system for manufacturing 44 train sets of Train 18.
"Besides erecting the electrical traction sets as per the specification given by ICF, the bidding company had to maintain the electrical parts for the period of five years," added the official. But it has come as a surprise that the top international companies stayed away.
An official source explained the reason as, "Foreign companies including Bombardier, Siemens and CAF used to participate in the bidding for coach production in ICF. The changes made in the specifications of Train 18 as per the directions from Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO) has made the product less attractive for many capable companies."
"The bidders asked to supply assembled bogies which are not connected with electrics and specifications of Roof Mounted AC Package Unit (RMPU) also altered making it difficult practically. As a result, international companies stayed away from the tender process."
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