The Union Railways Minister, Piyush Goyal, is looking to give Indian Railways a world-class multi-crore ‘Make in India’ push! And, this push involves manufacturing state-of-the-art train sets and coaches with a focus on passenger safety and comfort.
Goyal met top executives from foreign OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturers) and discussed plans to ‘Make in India’ train sets and coaches with the latest technology and superior safety standards. 'Passenger Safety is our top priority. Held a meeting with world-class coach manufacturers in New Delhi, and discussed ways to make Indian Railways safer and more comfortable for passengers,' he tweeted.
Top honchos from Alstom, Siemens, Talgo, Bombardier, Stadler, Hitachi and Titagarh-Firema (Firema is an Italian firm) attended the meeting with the Railways Minister and gave presentations on their product offerings.
According to sources, a proposal to manufacture 200 train sets – that means around 40,000 coaches under Make in India – was discussed. Yet another proposal revolves around making 5,000 coaches per year and a third is to make metro coaches in India for networks in all cities. If all these see the light of the day, this would mean three multi-crore projects under ‘Make in India’.
An industry executive who attended the meeting said that the meeting with Goyal was a preliminary one where Indian Railways put forth its requirement of manufacturing affordable coaches and train sets while not compromising on passenger safety and comfort and bring next-generation technology to the country’s rail network.
Subrat Nath, Managing Director at Talgo India, said his firm is optimistic that several opportunities for the industry will emerge in the coming months. 'The Minister had a frank discussion with all industry players and invited them to manufacture world-class coaches here. His main focus was on safety. Make in India at affordable rates was the thrust of the conversation.' According to him, Piyush Goyal wants the firms to come forward with proposals to manufacture train sets, coaches and metro coaches in India. 'Extensive discussions with railway officials will be held on that in the coming months and tenders for various projects will then be floated.'
Sudhir Rao, India MD at Bombardier Transportation, said, 'Goyal took inputs from the rail suppliers on the various kinds of train sets and coaches which are available globally and can be manufactured in India at competitive rates. The idea is to provide a world-class experience to passengers who undertake a train journey for a duration as short as 4 hours, to those who travel 2000 km as well.' Rao was part of the meeting and said that it was an interactive session. 'Indian Railways is looking to modernize coach manufacturing in India and identify the best technology suited to India’s ecosystem. Indian Railways is a demanding customer, but the Railway Minister was very open to the industry’s inputs and feedback. That’s a big takeaway for us.'.
Meanwhile, the ICF is already manufacturing self-propelled semi-high speed train sets (Train 18) that will eventually replace Shatabdi Express trains and can travel at speeds up to 160 kmph. The first such train set will roll out by June. Yet another project is Train 20 which involves making world-class semi-high speed train sets for longer distances.