Integral Coach Factory, one of the earliest production units of independent India, is now gunning for a hat-trick. For the second straight fiscal the rail coach manufacturer has managed to surpass its annual production target, hitting a new milestone along the way this year.
"ICF has crossed another milestone in the production history by surpassing the target of 2,464 coaches fixed by the Railway Board and made a record outturn of 2503 coaches," it said in a statement over the weekend. A whopping 73 per cent of them were stainless steel coaches. In 2016-17, it had similarly produced a then-record 2,277 coaches, exceeding the production target by 5 per cent.
According to media reports, the 2,500th coach - made with technology from Linke-Hoffman Busch, Germany - was flagged off in the presence of S. Mani, ICF general manager, last Saturday. But the Chennai-based plant has grander plans for the future. According to a senior official, the ICF is targeting 3000 coaches next year, and has many new products in the pipeline. "We are looking to supply 80 world-class coaches to Sri Lanka, for which the prototype will be ready tentatively in July," he said. Then there are plans to reportedly acquire technology from Germany to manufacture world-class coaches with an aluminium body, codenamed Train 20, by 2020.
In the meantime, the development of Train 18 - another next-gen product - is reportedly already underway. According to The Financial Express, the new self-propelled semi-high speed train set will be rolled out in June 2018 and will boast 16 fully air-conditioned coaches with features like modular toilets, plush interiors, diffused lighting, automatic plug doors, and more. Better yet, the train will run at a speed of 160 kmph.
A report by the Standing Committee on Railways on safety and security in December 2016 had observed that the modern Linke-Hoffman Busch (LHB) coaches do not witness higher casualties in case of derailment as the coaches do not pile on each other, and recommended that the Indian Railways completely switches to LHB coaches. According to the report, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal recently said that ICF has almost tripled the production of such coaches. The number of LHB coaches had crossed 1,100 in 2017-18, up from 400 in 2016-17. In fact, the railway ministry has reportedly decided to exclusively manufacture LHB coaches, thus doing away with the conventional coaches, this year on.
With agency inputs
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