Vande Bharat Express: No Chinese Train 18! Indian Railways likely to scrap CRRC bid in semi-high speed project

By: and |
Updated: Jul 11, 2020 1:28 PM

No to Chinese participation in Vande Bharat Express trains! Piyush Goyal-led Railway Ministry is likely to scrap the bid of a Chinese Joint Venture firm for 44 semi-high speed train sets project, learns Financial Express Online.

The present tender for 44 such train sets would be worth over an amount of Rs 1,500 crore.

No Chinese participation in Vande Bharat Express trains! Piyush Goyal-led Railway Ministry is likely to scrap the bid of a Chinese Joint Venture firm for 44 semi-high speed train sets project, learns Financial Express Online. Chinese state-owned CRRC Corporation has emerged as the only foreign bidder in the tender that has been floated by the Integral Coach Factory (ICF), Chennai. In total, there are six contenders, which include Bharat Heavy Electricals, Electrowaves Electronic, Mumbai-based Powernetics Equipments and Hyderabad-based Medha Group.

Sources told Financial Express Online that the bid by China’s CRRC is expected to be scrapped based on a clause in Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion’s ‘Make in India’ policy. “If a Nodal Ministry is satisfied that Indian suppliers of an item are not allowed to participate and/or compete in procurement by any foreign government, it may, if it deems appropriate, restrict or exclude bidders from that country from eligibility for procurement of that item and/or other items relating to that Nodal Ministry,” the clause in Public Procurement (Preference to Make in India), Order 2017 reads.

According to the policy the bidder may be considered from a country based on several criteria, one of which is – “a majority of its shareholding or effective control of the entity is exercised from that country”. CRRC Pioneer Electric (India), is a joint venture of CRRC Corporation and a Gurugram-based company according to its website.

Chinese state-owned CRRC Corporation has emerged as a contender for the tender for procuring propulsion systems. According to officials quoted in a PTI report, the present tender for 44 Vande Bharat Express (Train 18) trains sets project would be worth over an amount of Rs 1,500 crore. This is considering that the first Vande Bharat Express, which was launched last year at a cost of Rs 100 crore has a Rs 35 crore propulsion system component. This current tender for the project was floated last year on December 22, and was opened on Friday. This tender is the third such tender, which has been floated for these ‘Make in India’ trains. The tender that was floated was for the supply of electrical equipment along with other items for 44 Vande Bharat Express train sets, each consisting of 16 coaches.

According to the report, the first tender was for as many as 43 sets. The second tender was floated for a total of 37 Train-18 propulsion systems. However, this was cancelled. Surprisingly, major firms such as Mitsubishi, Alstom, CAF, Siemens, Bombardier, and Talgo did not participate in the bids.

Following a standoff with China, a Rs 471-crore signalling and telecommunication work contract for a 417-km stretch on the Kanpur-Deen Dayal Upadhyay section by a Chinese firm was cancelled by Indian Railways. The national transporter also scrapped a tender for the thermal screening cameras after vendors from India complained of the bid document, which according to them was favouring the Chinese.

According to officials, it might take at least two-and-a-half years to manufacture the next Vande Bharat Express. Thus, there is likely to be a delay in the target set by Railway Minister Piyush Goyal who aimed to produce 160 coaches in the year 2019-20, as many as 240 coaches in the year 2020-21 and 240 number of coaches in the year 2021-22 at the ICF, Chennai.

The coaches of the upcoming Train-18 train sets will be of Chair Car type, specially designed for day travel. These trains will also offer various other facilities like CCTVs, automatic plug doors with retractable footsteps, in-coach displays, speakers, mobile/laptop charging sockets, modular pantry equipment, GPS antenna, luggage racks with reading lamps, etc.

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