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Setback for Indian Railways

Indian Railways had floated global tenders in June last year for procurement, maintenance and manufacture of a total of 316 coaches for 17 train sets for faster inter-city travel. As per the request for proposal for the project, while 276 coaches will be manufactured in India under the ‘Make in India’ programme, 40 would be imported. Introduction of the much-awaited train set project was announced by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu in his Rail Budget 2015-16.

A trainset, like the Delhi Metro trains, comprises coaches where each car is powered by a dedicated propulsion system and there is no locomotive required to haul the train. The EMU train-sets will operate at speeds of upto 160 km per hour. Indian Railways plans to introduce the modern EMU train-sets for running premium Shatabdi and Rajdhani trains without any additional expenditure on existing track and signaling infrastructure.

It has been Indian Railways’ ambitious Rs 2,500 crore trainset project, a part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ initiative. The ministry wants to procure two types of EMU train sets comprising 20 rail cars with sleeper arrangement and 16 rail cars with sitting arrangement. The winning bidder will have a maintenance obligation for seven years out of its life of 35 years after which the maintenance will be undertaken by Indian Railways. The depot site for EMU train sets is proposed to be near Ghaziabad on Northern Railway.

Five bidders had qualified and were expected to submit tenders by December-end last year. The bidders then wanted the number of coaches to be increased from 316 to 1,000 as they felt with fewer cars to be manufactured the project will not be financially viable for them. At their request the deadline for submitting the bids was further extended to May 2.

The five bidders who had qualified for the project are Alstom-BEML, CAF-Bombardier, Hitachi-Ansaldo, Siemens and Kawasaki-Toshiba-BHEL.

While the successful bidder will be importing two trainsets, the rest would have to be manufactured in the country as per the bidding conditions.

It suffered a major setback with none of the shortlisted bidders filing tenders. The bidders had to submit their bids by 2 May, the last date, after at least two extensions of the deadline in December and February. The bidders are understood to have asked for raising the tender size to 1,000 coaches to make the project viable.

“Today was the last date for the submission of the financial bids for the trainset project. But all five shortlisted bidders did not submit any bids despite extending the deadline for submitting the bids twice at the request of potential bidders. So in the absence of any bidding till the last day, the tendering process gets discharged,” said a senior Railway Ministry official.

The official said Railways will now explore how to revive the project.