A joint venture between public sector company Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd (RVNL) and Russian engineering company Metrowagonmash is on course to manufacture and supply around 120 Vande Bharat trains to Indian Railways, at a cost of ₹120 crore per train.

The blue-and-white trains, with AC sleeper coaches, are expected to be manufactured at a railway factory in Latur, Maharashtra.

A share purchase agreement — to set up a subsidiary — was signed recently, while an official contract between the JV partners and Indian Railways is yet to be inked.

The immediate step after signing the contract is to deposit a bank guarantee of ₹200 crore, followed by the development of a prototype train, subject to approvals, those in the know said.

The first prototypes are expected to be ready for testing by mid-2025.

Apart from Metrowagonmash, which has 70 per cent (majority) stake in the JV, another Russian company, equipment supplier Locomotive Electronic Systems (LES), has a 5 per cent stake, and the rest is with RVNL.

In a stock market notification on July 18, RVNL announced the “formation of a wholly-owned subsidiary company” called Kinet Railway Solutions Limited.

“Share purchase agreement has been signed between the company (Kinet Railway Solutions Limited) and RVNL, joint stock company Metrowagonmash and Locomotive Electronic Systems. Details shall be filed after signing of shareholders’ agreement,” it said.

India plans to have 150 Vande Bharat trains (semi-fast) by the end of this fiscal. 

According to a senior official, the ramp-up of facilities is already underway.

Beating the odds

The value of the winning bid, which includes the price of train sets (locomotives, engines, and carriages), annual maintenance contracts, and so on, is pegged at ₹35,000–36,000 crore.

The other bidders included the BHEL–Titagarh Wagons consortium (which quoted ₹139–140 crore per train); a consortium of Bharat Earth Movers Limited and Siemens (₹145 crore); Alstrom Transport (₹165 crore); and Medha Servo Drives-Stadler Rail JV (₹165 crore).

A reported disagreement between RVNL (which wanted to hold the majority stake) and Metrowagonmash was resolved following interventions at various levels, those aware of the discussions said.

80-train contract

Incidentally, the consortium of BHEL and Titagarh Wagons — the second lowest bidder — was awarded a ₹23,000-crore contract to manufacture and supply 80 Vande Bharat trains (with AC sleeper coaches) for the Railways. Fully assembled trains are to be manufactured by 2029, and there is a 35-year maintenance clause.

The manufacturing will be at the Indian Railways’ Integral Coach Factory in Chennai and the “trains shall have design/operating speed of 176/160 kmph (semi-high speed)”.

BHEL will cover the supply of propulsion systems, including traction converter-inverter, auxiliary converter, train control management system, motors, transformers, and mechanical bogies. The manufacturing will be at BHEL’s facilities in Bengaluru, Bhopal and Jhansi.

Titagarh Wagons will handle mechanical coach building. 

The final integration, testing, commissioning and maintenance will be done jointly by the two partners.