Three companies, including Steel Authority of India, have submitted bids to the Indian Railways to set up a manufacturing facility that will supply 80,000 wheels of various types per annum for the next 20 years.

The two other companies that have shown interest are Bharat Forge and Ramkrishna Forgings, according to a statement from the railways on Wednesday.

The Indian Railways had floated a tender and invited bids for setting up a wheels manufacturing plant in the country with an assured annual offtake of 80,000 wheels for the next 20 years to reduce its dependence on imports.

Also read: Standing Committee expresses concern over high operating ratio of Railways, slow roll-out of Vande Bharat trains

Describing it as an important Make-In-India initiative, the railways said, "The bidding process was very transparent and competitive. Tender was opened on January 24, 2023."

Ramkrishna Forgings has emerged as the lowest bidder followed by Bharat Forge and SAIL, it said.

Presently, SAIL supplies at an average rate of ₹1,87,000 per tonne.

Also read: How Indian Railways cleaning mechanism has transformed over years

The existing domestic capacity of SAIL is 40,000 wheels and RINL is 80,000 wheels (yet to start regular commercial production), making a total of 1,20,000 wheels.

The railways has been importing various types of forged wheels required for locomotives and coaching stock (LHB) since 1960s from the UK, Czech Republic, Brazil, Romania, Japan, China, Ukraine, and Russia.

This year, 80,000 wheels worth approximately ₹520 crore were imported from China and Russia, with the remaining 40,000 being sourced from SAIL.

Also read: Texmaco Rail & Engineering gears up to meet demand for more wagons

Due to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict, all the import requirement of wheels is being met from China.

The requirement of wheels is projected to increase up to ₹2 lakh by 2026 due to induction of more high speed trains.