Indian Railways, under PM Narendra Modi's 'Make in India' initiative, is looking to manufacture its first aluminium shell coaches that will possibly be capable of attaining speeds of 250 kmph!
Indian Railways, under PM Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ initiative, is looking to manufacture its first aluminium shell coaches that will possibly be capable of attaining speeds of 250 kmph! A proposal to make 500 aluminium coaches at the Modern Coach Factory (MCF) Raebareli is awaiting final approval from the Railway Ministry. Indian Railways currently manufactures stainless steel LHB coaches, even as the world over aluminium is a widely used material for trains. “Given that production of aluminium coaches will be a first for Indian Railways, a global tender will be floated for Transfer of Technology (ToT),” Rajesh Agrawal, Member Rolling Stock at Railway Board told Financial Express Online. The ToT component of the tender is expected to be around Rs 150 crore.
According to Rajesh Agrawal, the global tender is likely to be awarded in the next financial year and by 2020-21 the first aluminium shell train set will likely roll out from MCF Raebareli. “Aluminium coaches are the way forward for Indian Railways, it’s a modern technology that will help save money in the long-term,” Rajesh Agrawal said. “Stainless steel corrodes, while aluminium does not. So the maintenance requirements and costs are much lesser. The ICF-design coaches have to be condemned within 25 years and the LHBs may not last beyond 30-35 years. With aluminium, we are planning to go for a 40-year life, maybe even beyond,” he added.
Train sets – the way forward
As Indian Railways gets ready to induct its first engineless Train 18, Agrawal feels that train sets are the way forward for Indian Railways. “Progressively for passenger segments, we should move to train sets because distributed power systems are much lighter. These aluminium coaches that we are hoping to make will also be joined to form a train set. On a per coach basis, several tonnes are saved, the train is much lighter and evenly powered, hence ensuring smoother rides,” he told Financial Express Online.
Advantages of aluminium coaches
“Aluminium coaches are lighter hence the energy costs are reduced drastically. For every coach around 3 tonnes of material is saved. Every time a train accelerates or decelerates, there is energy loss. So, with a lighter coach, the energy loss will be phenomenally lesser,” explained Agrawal. “While the incremental cost of manufacturing the coach is negligible, the lifecycle cost will be far less,” he added. Agrawal is of the view that European and Japanese giants should come forward to ‘Make in India’ these next-generation coaches once the global tender is floated. “Once we (Indian Railways) gets the ToT, it can be optimised further for Indian needs,” he said.
‘Make in India’ aluminium coaches for exports
Indian Railways is also hopeful of eventually exporting these modern aluminium coaches, for which they may be made keeping in mind speeds of 250 kmph! “The track limitation for Indian Railways is 160 kmph, but if we export these aluminium coaches, which we should actually, then they should be able to run at 250 kmph,” Rajesh Agrawal said.
Meanwhile, PM Narendra Modi is for the first time visiting Raebareli’s MCF on December 16 where he will flag off the 900th coach manufactured at the unit and also preview an upgraded Humsafar Express rake.