The Integral Coach Factory (ICF) at Perambur in Chennai is the crown jewel of the Indian Railways when it comes to coach manufacturing. It has the capability to design and develop any variant of coach in-house, including the Vande Bharat trains. While its hands are full in producing Vande Bharat, it has not stopped manufacturing other coaches such as Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB).
“Production of other trains also continues. There is no reduction in numbers,” ICF’s General Manager BG Mallya said when asked if production of Vande Bharat has slowed down the manufacturing of other coaches. In this interview with businessline, Mallya shares ICF’s focus on manufacturing a full complement of coaches and their production roadmap. Excerpts:
Many say that ICF’s focus now is more on premium trains such as Vande Bharat and manufacturing of other coaches have slowed down. Is that so?
Initially the belief was there, that all the normal trains would be reduced considerably. But you will find that LHB coaches are doing good in numbers with 1,905 coaches being produced. We have other EMUs (electric multiple units) for production as well. ICF will manufacture 63 numbers of 8 coach trains; 14 numbers of 16 coach trains and the rest are EMU trains. Production of other trains will continue. There is no reduction in numbers. In between, yes, an impression was perhaps given that we are cutting down, but that’s not happening now.
What’s the production target for this fiscal?
Last year ICF manufactured about 2,700 coaches. This year, our target is 3,773, including 1,900 LHBs; 730 Vande Bharat and the rest such as EMUs.
What are the variants of Vande Bharat and how are they different?
Vande Metro, one of the three versions of Vande Bharat, will replace the mainline EMU, and will have all the features of Vande Bharat. The difference is that it has space for standees with each coach accommodating 100 people sitting and 200 standing. It will be 8-12 cars and fully air conditioned with on board infotainment and WiFi. However, a pantry will not be there due to the short distance travel. Vande Metro is intended to be used on circuits that are 100-150 km like Howrah to Burdwan of two hours travel. The prototype is to be rolled out in the current financial year. Vande Metro would have a maximum speed of 130 kmph.
How about Vande Sleeper trains?
On Vande Sleeper, there is a big order from the Railway ministry for 120 trains with a joint venture between Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd and the Russian company Transmashholding, and another 80 trains between Titagarh and BHEL.
We are trying to make one train ourselves this year and another nine in the following year. This train would have 16 coaches. The AC 3-tiers would have more toilets because the occupancy is more. There will be a lot of additional partitions, additional toilets and a pantry in every alternate coach. It will be fully air-conditioned and have all the other features of Vande Bharat. It will be a premium train with the interiors better than any of the AC trains running today. The rollout will be in this fiscal.
Can you give an update on Vande freight trains?
Under Gati Shakti train (freight), the Vande Bharat trains will be operated with seats removed; wider sliding doors and special floor with roller so that the cubicle container can be loaded with forklift trucks. Inside the coach, positioning can be done by a gentle push. We have a target for the current year. This is a 16-car train. It need not be air conditioned, but temperature control would be required if perishables are to be moved. It is intended to move electronic goods, clothes and ecommerce. Once we have high speed trains, we will be able to grab business from road transport.
In the next five years, what sort of distribution will happen among ICF, KPF and MCF on production of Vande Bharat?
We will be doing most of them. Today, for RCF, Kapurthala, 16 Vande Bharat trains are assigned. This order was placed by ICF. They will get propulsion from Bombardier. MCF, Raebareli has been given nine Vande Bharat with propulsion from Siemens. That is the immediate plan. Out of the 200 trains ordered by the Railway Ministry, 120 will be done at the newly constructed coach factory at Latur and 80 at ICF. There is a tender that ICF is going to finalise for 200 sleeper trains out of which 100 will be done at ICF and 50 at Raebareli and Kapurthala. There is another tender for 100 aluminium body and 200 kmph Vande Bharat sleeper trains to be done at Rail Coach Factory, Sonepat.