India

India’s first locally manufactured bullet trains: Integral Coach Factory takes the lead

The two bullet trains will be utilised on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail (MAHSR) corridor, making it the first time India will manufacture trains capable of reaching speeds up to 250 kilometres per hour

India is taking significant steps in advancing its high-speed rail network, with the state-owned Integral Coach Factory (ICF) tasked with locally producing two standard-gauge bullet trains within this fiscal year.

According to a report by Economic Times, this decision follows negotiations with Japanese suppliers that stalled due to pricing disagreements. The two bullet trains will be utilised on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail (MAHSR) corridor, making it the first time India will manufacture trains capable of reaching speeds up to 250 kilometres per hour.

In 2018, the estimated cost for a 10-coach bullet train was Rs 389 crore, with each train expected to achieve cruising speeds of over 300 kilometers per hour. By 2023, this cost had risen to Rs 460 crore per trainset. Initially, the plan involved sourcing these trainsets from Japanese companies, backed by a significant funding of Rs 59,396 crore from the Japan International Cooperation Agency for the bullet train project.

Bullet Trains
Image Source: Wikipedia

While the Japanese companies, including renowned companies like Hitachi and Kawasaki, were willing to supply the ‘Shinkansen’ train sets, Indian Railways was not convinced by the proposed prices. The responsibility has been handed over to ICF, Chennai, to construct and deliver two standard-gauge train sets of eight cars each. These train sets will feature a steel car body, with a running speed of 220 kilometres per hour and a maximum speed of 250 kilometres per hour.

A senior official mentioned, “ICF, Chennai has been assigned the task of constructing and delivering two standard-gauge train sets of eight cars each, featuring a steel car body, with a running speed of 220 kmph and a maximum speed of 250 kmph.” The order for these trains was issued earlier this week. Despite long time discussions with the Japanese companies, no significant progress has not been made.

The trains are expected to be built on the Vande Bharat platform. However, experts indicate that delivering them within the current fiscal year remains a significant challenge.

Currently, the MAHSR is the only sanctioned high-speed rail project in India. This high-speed rail will operate at 320 kilometres per hour, covering the 508.17-kilometer distance between Mumbai and Ahmedabad in approximately two hours. This is a significant reduction from the current travel time of nine hours by bus or six hours by ordinary rail.

The local manufacturing of these bullet trains is a landmark achievement as it not only demonstrates the country’s growing capabilities in advanced rail technology but also marks a shift towards self-reliance in high-speed rail infrastructure.

The Integral Coach Factory, established in 1955, has a long history of producing various types of rail coaches and has been an important in modernising India’s rail network. With this new task, ICF is set to enter a new era of high-speed rail manufacturing.

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