Train 20: Indian Railways is working on plans to make the next-generation sleeper-class trains that will replace Rajdhani Express trains on the network. The new train sets will be self-propelled and engine-less with an aluminium body.
Train 20: Indian Railways is working on a project to manufacture world-class engine-less train sets for overnight long-distance journeys – and if the ambitious ‘Make in India’ initiative comes through then these self-propelled trains will eventually replace the Rajdhani Express. Codenamed Train 20, the new train set will have an aluminium body! That’s a first for Indian Railways which has till now made use of steel to manufacture its coaches. Most train sets around the world are made of aluminium and with Train 20, Indian Railways will acquire the capability to manufacture train sets at par with international standards.
Earlier in an interaction with the Financial Express Online, Sudhanshu Mani the GM of ICF said that aluminium is aesthetically better and the exterior of the train would hence be much better than the stainless steel LHB coaches. According to Mani, since aluminium is light weight, the coaches and the resultant rake will be more energy efficient. Train 20 will have next-generation sleeper-class coaches. For the uninitiated, Indian Railways is already manufacturing the chair car Train 18, another semi-high speed train set, that will replace Shatabdi Express trains.
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Just like Train 18, Train 20 is codenamed after the year in which ICF hopes to roll out the first train set of the kind. However unlike ‘Train 18’ which will replace Shatabdi Express trains and is being made by ICF Chennai on its own, Train 20 will likely be manufactured by a foreign OEM in India at the coach factory. A tender for the ambitious almost Rs 2,700 crore Train 20 project was floated earlier this year, but received only one bid. ICF had invited bidders for design, development, manufacturing, testing and commissioning of aluminium-body train sets. Additionally, Indian Railways received a rap from the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) which red-flagged the tender stating that it is not in line with PM Modi’s ambitious ‘Make in India’ project.
Now, a fresh tender will be floated with reworked conditions that would also take care of the interests of domestic manufacturers. An informed railway official told Financial Express Online that the re-worked tender has been finalised and sent to the Railway Board for approval. Once the Railway Board gives its go-ahead, ICF will then float the new tender and invite bids for the ‘Make in India’ project.
What will be the special features of Train 20?
The self-propelled, engine-less Train 20 will be a semi-high speed train set, capable of attaining a maximum speed of 160 kmph. Train 20 will be tested at speeds of 176 kmph. Train sets, like metro trains, have propulsion units fitted at the bottom, that eliminate the need to haul the train rake with the help of a locomotive. Train 20 will also have driver cabins at both ends. Not only does this help save the turnaround the time it takes for engine reversal etc, but also the self-propulsion system makes the train set more energy efficient. It also allows for faster acceleration and deceleration, a fact that will help save travel time between destinations. Since Train 20 will have sleeper coaches, it is being pitched for long-distance overnight travel and there are chances that it may run on the crucial Delhi-Mumbai Rajdhani route.
ICF expects foreign original equipment manufacturers such as Siemens/Alstom, Talgo, Bombardier, Stadler to bid for the ‘Make in India’ project. While the final details of the tender are yet to be decided, the initial plan by ICF involved making both air-conditioned and sleeper-type aluminium body train sets. There would be 14 train sets of 20 coaches each, with 11 spare coaches making it a total of 291 coaches. The sleeper coaches would be of all types – AC-1st, AC-II tier and AC-III tier. The train sets would have under-slung 3-phase propulsion system and automatic doors.