Railways to adopt a ‘zero’ imports policy

Mamuni Das New Delhi | Updated on July 28, 2020

Railways is working hard to to source all its wheel requirements domestically   -  Emmanual Yogini

The national transporter hopes to go totally ‘Made in India’; taking steps to boost local sourcing of components

Indian Railways hopes to become fully ‘Made in India’ in a year by bringing down its import dependence to nil.

“In 2016-17, the import content in overall-procurement was 6-7 per cent, which dropped to 1.46 per cent last year. The import content is expected to be zero from next year,” a source told BusinessLine.

According to a statement issued on July 25, the Railways is designing the local content requirement clause in the procurement of goods in such a manner that it gets more bids from local vendors or suppliers. As a part of Make in India scheme, the Railways has already lowered its import content in the procurement contracts in the last few years.

Last year, Railways imported three main products — track machines; wheels; and axles. In all these products, the Railways has developed indigenous capacity.

“Axles will be rolled out from an additional unit in Railways’ Rail Wheel Factory (RWF), Bengaluru. Similarly, Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited has set up a wheel plant in Rae Bareli. Afactory is being set up in Gujarat for track machines,” said a source.

With these initiatives, the Railways should be inching towards procuring all its inputs domestically in a year.

Chinese orders

Till recently, the Railways had been getting axles and wheels from China. It had placed an order for 6,000 axles from CRRC Datong Company Limited on May 6, for $4.47 million for a 2019 tender. Before that, it had placed a $26.67-million order with Taizhong Hong Kong International Limited for 60,000 wheels; a $3-million order with CRRC Yangtze Tongling to supply 4,000 axles; a $10.84-million order with CRRC Datong Company Limited for 15,000 axles.

In 2017, wheels for Kolkata metro rail coaches were sourced from China’s Taiyuan Heavy Industry Railway.

In 2017, Railways placed an order for locomotive wheels with France-based MG Valdunes, which were made and shipped from China. The French company (Valdune Group) was acquired by Maanshan Iron and Steel Company, a Chinese steel major.

The Railways continued to import a small portion of its requirements (below 2 per cent) because some highly specialised components for its locomotives, coaches, signalling telecom equipment were not available in adequate quantity and quality domestically, according to the annual report.

For instance, Alstom, which won one of its largest orders to make and maintain 800 locomotives in joint venture with Railways, has built local sourcing capacity to the extent of 90 per cent for its factory located in Madhepura. It sourced parts for its first batch of locomotives from six factories in France.

Similarly, the first batch of diesel locomotives supplied by GE Transportation (now a Wabtec company), in another similar joint venture to make and maintain 1,000 locomotives in India, has 70 per cent localised content. Railways’ signalling equipment also has a larger import component.

Published on July 28, 2020

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