The parliamentary standing committee on Railways has expressed concern over the production of India’s first semi-high-speed Vande Bharat Express train. In a report, tabled in both houses of the Parliament on Monday, the committee has advised the Ministry of Railways to escalate the production of the blue and white color trains to meet the target and the aspirations of the rail commuters.
In the Budget 2022-23, the railways have announced the production of 400 new Vande Bharat trains for operation in different phases. In a statement, the Ministry of Railways said, “Manufacturing of 400 Vande-Bharat Rakes is planned in phases within Indian Railway Production Units engaging different Technology partners to be selected through different Tenders. All tenders with MCMA (Manufacturing cum Maintenance Agreement) have already been floated.”
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Out of the 400 trains, 120 rakes are to be manufactured at Latur’s Marathwara Rail Coach Factory (MRCF), 80 rakes at Chennai’s ICF, 100 rakes at Sonipat’s Rail Coach Navinikarn Karkhana (RCNK), and 100 rakes at Rae Bareilly’s Modern Coach Factory.
In the current fiscal, the railways have planned to manufacture 35 rakes or 560 coaches of the semi-high speed train. According to the plan, a total of 31 rakes are supposed to be produced by Chennai-based Integral Coach Factory, 2 by RCF, and 2 by MCF. However, to date, the railways have manufactured only eight rakes. In its report, the committee finds it difficult to achieve the set target.
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In FY 2023-24, the railways have planned to manufacture a total of 67 trains or 1,072 coaches. The rakes will be manufactured at its three production units – 46 rakes in ICF, 10.5 in RCF, and 10.5 in MCF. The parliamentary standing committee also expressed doubt over the production of these rakes in the next financial year. The committee has asked the national transporter to “extend the technological support to other Production Units to enable them to manufacture the rakes/coaches of Vande Bharat Trains for bringing into the fleet.”
At present, 10 rakes of Vande Bharat Express trains are in service. They are New Delhi-Varanasi, New Delhi-Sri Mata Vaishno Devi, Mumbai Central-Gandhinagar, New Delhi- Amb Andaura, Chennai-Mysore, Bilaspur-Nagpur, Howrah-New Jalpaiguri, Secunderabad-Vishakhapatnam, Mumbai-Solapur, Mumbai-Sainagar Shirdi.