Amid speculation that the 44 Vande Bharat trains scheduled to hit the tracks by 2022 will be delayed, the Railways on Tuesday said the train sets will now be manufactured by not one but three railway units and will be on the rail network within the next three years. Railway Board Chairman VK Yadav on Tuesday said the trains will be simultaneously manufactured in three rail units -- the Railway Coach Factory, Kapurthala, Modern Coach Factory, Rae Bareilly and the Integral Coach Factory, Chennai.
"A decision was taken some months back that the three manufacturing units of the Railways will manufacture 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,Yadav said.
In a letter dated July 14, the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) which manufactured the first two Vande Bharat trains informed the Railway Board that it would take 28 months to introduce the prototype rakes into commercial service and an additional six months to start the series production, and subsequently 78 months to complete the manufacture of 44 trains, according to its estimates.
Yadav, however, said these were internal communications within the Railways and since the three units are going to manufacture the rakes, the roll out would be faster. The production of the Vande Bharat train sets or Train 18 has been mired in controversy even as the first one was rolled out by ICF in record 18 months. It was built at a cost of approximately Rs 100 crore and has been providing seamless service on two routes: Delhi-Varanasi and Delhi-Katra.
Recently, Chinese state-owned rolling stock major CRRC Corporation emerged as the only foreign player to bid for the Railways' global tender for its ambitious semi-high speed Train 18 project. The bid from CRRC, which has entered into a joint venture with a Gurugram-based company to place its bid under the name CRRC Pioneer Electric (India) Private Limited, is likely to be scrapped.
It is one of the six contenders for the tender for procuring propulsion systems or electric traction kits for 44 trains to be branded as Vande Bharat Express or Train 18. Officials said going by the cost of manufacturing the first Train 18 which was launched last year Rs 100 crore, of which Rs 35 crore was for the propulsion system alone the present tender for 44 such kits would be worth over Rs 1,500 crore.
This tender was floated on December 22, 2019, by the Integral Coach Factory (ICF), Chennai, and was opened on July 11. It is the third such tender floated for these trains.