New Delhi (Urban Transport News): Indian Railways is planning to procure 100 new trains of international standards by 2022 to increase the speed of services. The production of train 18 has been stopped due to some controversy in the past tendering process at its Integral Coach Factory, Chennai. According to the present rolling stock capacity of Indian Railways, the Vande Bharat Express (train 18) can run at the highest speed of 160km/h, while the Mail and Express trains can operate at up to 70km/h. In 2016, Railways had awarded an Rs.40 billion contract for the manufacturing of 40 trains to a joint venture of Stadler and domestic supplier, Medha Servo Drives.
The contract was awarded as a part of the Centre's 'Make in India' initiative by the IR owned Chennai based production unit Integral Coach Factory. Out of 40, only two trains (Vande Bharat Express) rolled out which are now operational on the New Delhi -Varanasi and the New Delhi – Katra routes. But due to some vigilance complaint alleging the previous tendering process, the Railway has stopped its domestic production plans in March this year.
Subsequently, Railway had canceled the contract and ordered a vigilance inquiry to investigate complaints that tender documents were tweaked to favour the aforesaid company i.e. Medha Servo Drives. According to previous tender conditions, the successful bidder is required to have facilities as per the Make-in-India schemes as well as a minimum of five years’ experience of supplying G8 countries. “Such pre-conditions work to the disadvantage of domestic companies,” the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) said in a letter to Ashwani Lohani, the then chairman of the Railway Board in March 2018.
"The charges have been strongly contested, with Shubhrahshu, who was principal chief mechanical engineer at ICF until June 2019, sending a letter to current chairman V K Yadav in August to assert that the Stadler-Medha consortium had been awarded the contract because of their offer to manufacture the trains at the lowest possible cost", reported by Rail Journal, an online news portal. However, Railway has offered the opportunity to global rolling stock manufacturers such as Bombardier Transportation and Siemens to submit their counter-offers but they refused to do so, the official said in his letter. CRRC and Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) had been among the other bidders in the first round.
Sources said that initially seven numbers of the aluminum-body distributed-traction trains will be imported and the remaining trains will be manufactured in India under a technology transfer arrangement. Bids for the procurement of 100 new trains will be floated soon and roll out of the first train is expected in 2022.