New Delhi: In what could be dubbed as a major shift in policy, the Indian Railways is planning on purchasing train sets from private players instead of manufacturing them in-house. The news comes just days after Minister for Railways Piyush Goyal said that while there was no proposal to privatise the Railways, the government was keen on corporatising it.
The move could, however, result in job losses at Railway's existing production facilities and ancillary units.
According to sources, the idea of procuring train sets, Electric Multiple Unit (EMUs) and Mainline Electric Multiple Unit (MEMU) from the private sector was discussed at a high-level meeting between Goyal and Minister of State of Railways Suresh Angadi, top officials and manufacturers of trains/coach components.
Sources added that Goyal made it clear that any such procurement will have to be done in accordance with the government's 'Make in India' policy.
Reacting to the idea, All India Railwaymen Federation (AIRF) working president N. Kannaiah said, "The making of Train18 (Vande Bharat Express), and Tejas Express rakes are examples of how our production units can deliver world class products. The production capacity of ICF increased from 1,437 coaches per year in 2009-10 to 3,200 coaches in 2018-19. But the manpower has been drastically cut."
He said that the proposal would not only burden the Railways financially but cost thousands of employees their jobs in the long run.
As of now, Railways gets its trains from three manufacturing units — the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) in Chennai (Tamil Nadu), Modern Coach Factory in Rae Bareli (Uttar Pradesh) and the Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala (Punjab).
The ministry is also believed to have told the ICF and the MCF to cancel all ongoing tender processes for the manufacture of the flagship Vande Bharat Express train units.
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Even though Railways has so far relied on its own manufacturing units to roll out train sets, this is not the first time India will be procuring ready-made rakes manufactured by private firms. Most metro networks in the country have been opting for ready-made rakes manufactured by private firms.
For instance, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) gets its rolling stock from Hyundai Rotem, CAF, among others. Mumbai Metro, on the other hand, procures rolling stock from CRRC Nanjing Puzhen. Chennai Metro gets its metro rakes from French rail vehicle giant Alstom, which has a production facility in Sri City, Andhra Pradesh.