In an important shift in policy, the Indian Railways has decided that the controversial Train-18 trainsets, better known as Vande Bharat trains, will not just be produced in Integral Coach Factory, Chennai.
V K Yadav, Chairman, Railway Board, in a press conference today revealed that Rail Coach Factory (RCF), Kapurthala and Modern Coach Factory (MCF), Rae Bareli will also participate in the production of the trainsets.
He said that the decision to split production among the three coach making units was taken a few months ago.
ICF Says Not Before 2027
This announcement comes after the CRB was asked to clarify on reports of ICF communicating to the Railway Board that production of Vande Bharat trainsets will only be completed by 2027.
CRB Yadav added that the final production timeline will be decided with the ICF, RCF and MCF once the tender for supplies of propulsion equipment for the trainsets was finalized. However, he claimed that the rakes will be on the line in 2-3 years.
Train-18: Dogged by Controversy in 2019, No Production in 2020
The Vande Bharat Express trainset, earlier known as Train-18, was designed and built at Integral Coach Factory in less than two years. However, inter-departmental tussles led to delays and the eventual scuttling of serial production of the trainset at ICF. Two rakes were designed.
Vigilance inquiries and procedural issues subsequently caused holding up of manufacturing of additional rakes. As a result, the target for the manufacture of 10 rakes in 2019-20 was abandoned. Only one rake was rolled out in the financial year in May 2019.
In all, there are only two rakes (32 coaches) of the trainset are currently in operation.
With tenders yet to be finalized, it is unlikely that any new trainset on the Train-18 platform will roll out in 2020-21 either.