Indian Railways on Friday cancelled the tender for the manufacturing of 44 rakes of Train 18, which has been re-christened as Vande Bharat Express and said a fresh tender will be floated within a week’s time focusing on Make in India. The Ministry of Railways in a statement said, “Tender for manufacturing of 44 sets of semi high speed train set (Vande Bharat) has been cancelled.”
“Fresh tender will be floated within a week as per revised public procurement (Preference to Make in India) order,” it added.
Last month, when the tender was opened, a Chinese joint venture firm -- CRRC Pioneer Electric (India) Private Limited -- had emerged as the only foreign player among the six contenders for the supply of electrical equipment and other items for the 44 train sets of 16 coaches each.
The Chennai-based ICF has invited bids for procurement of electric traction kits for Train 18, the country’s first self-propelled train without locomotives. Train 18 was manufactured by ICF, which is owned by the Indian Railways, with over 80 per cent indigenous materials and was rolled out in October 2018 amidst much fanfare.
The train was later re-christened as Vande Bharat express and was introduced between New Delhi and Varanasi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s parliamentary constituency, in February last year. In October last year, the second Vande Bharat Express train was introduced between New Delhi and Katra.
In November 2019, the railway board gave a go-ahead to ICF to resume manufacturing of the semi high-speed trains. Subsequently, the ICF had called for bids for procuring electric traction kits for 44 train sets. Each set of trains has got 16 coaches.
In December last year, Indian Railways had planned to complete the production of 44 more new rakes on India’s 75th Independence day. All the coaches of Vande Bharat Express have a stainless steel car body equipped with automatic doors with sliding footsteps, onboard computers for train control and remote monitoring.
The coaches also have a GPS-based audio-visual passenger information system, on-board hotspot WiFi and comfortable seating arrangements.
Earlier, when India and China were involved in a tense border stand-off along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh, the railways had scrapped a tender for thermal cameras meant for "COVID-19 surveillance" after Indian firms alleged that the tender specifications favoured a Chinese company.
(With inputs from agencies)