Indian Railways invites tenders for the manufacture of 80,000 wheels
Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw has also ensured safer rail journeys for passengers in Vande Bharat with a locally developed solution capable of stopping 99.9% of airborne germs in coaches.
In a first, the country’s largest carrier, Indian Railways, has launched a tender inviting the private sector to set up a state-of-the-art plant to manufacture 80,000 wheels for medium-speed trains.
The move came after deliveries of wheels for its semi-high-speed flagship were stalled in conflict-torn Ukraine and ultimately had to be flown in to meet production deadlines.
The railways currently require two lakh of these wheels per year, with the state-owned Steel Authority of India (SAIL) supplying one lakh of the wheels.
SAIL’s factory in Durgapur, West Bengal, has been manufacturing wheels for the railways’ new Linke Hofman Busch (LHB) coaches – named after the German company that developed them – since March 2019. LHB coaches are introduced to gradually replace conventional rail cars manufactured by the Tamil Nadu-based Integral Coach Factory (ICF) for improved safety and higher speeds.
Apart from making the Aatmanirbhar (autonomous) Railways, Vaishnaw has already sniffed out another opportunity in moving exports!
“We have decided that apart from manufacturing for the country, we will also export these wheels worldwide,” Vaishnaw told media at a press briefing in New Delhi on Friday.
“This is a golden opportunity for us since we have the advantage of volumes. On the one hand, since we are replacing the existing coaches and, on the other hand, since we have to achieve the objective of [manufacturing] 400 new Vande Bharat trains given to us by Prime Minister Modi,” he added.
The minister said the railways would mainly look to the European market for the export of wheels, as the continent is currently facing supply-side challenges.
At a time when travelers have become aware of the hygiene aspect, the Minister promised that the new Vande Bharat coaches will provide a sanitized environment thanks to a locally developed solution. “Integrated into the air conditioning unit, it can kill 99.9% of germs,” he claimed.
Called photocatalytic ultraviolet air purification system, the solution is installed in roof-mounted air conditioning and cleans the air of most bacteria and viruses.