After CRRC proves a non-starter, MAHA-Metro to build Train Coaches

China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation, which was supposed to build a metro coach manufacturing unit, has not released an official statement on why it has backed out of the project.

MUMBAI: The proposed metro coach manufacturing unit set to come up in Nagpur will now be built by MAHA-Metro, which is tasked with constructing the Nagpur and Pune metro projects. It is all likely that BEML – a PSU under Ministry of Defence, will be invited to form a Joint Venture company so as to speed up the project.

China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation, which was supposed to build the unit, has not released an official statement on why it has backed out of the project.

MAHA-Metro Managing Director Brijesh Dixit told that the project had come its way after there was no headway in the CRRC initiative. “They (CRRC) are waiting for more orders than the 69 coaches for Nagpur metro to be able to initiate action. The government had already earmarked land for the project. Since there was no headway in the CRRC initiative in terms of purchase of land at the Butibori Industrial Estate near Nagpur, it was decided that MAHA-Metro itself will set up the unit,” he said.

A questionnaire emailed to CRRC didn’t ellict a response.

Earlier, RSS-affiliate Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) had written to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, opposing the entry of CRRC as a manufacturer here. It had pitched for indigenous manufacturing of coaches. SJM leader Ashwani Mahajan told The Indian Express, “We were opposed to the Chinese project and wanted India to manufacture its own coaches. Otherwise, what is the meaning of Make in India? Now we will not claim that CRRC is out of it because of us but surely our pressure was there and the general public sentiment was also in favour of indigenous manufacture and that sentiment has to be honoured.”

When pointed out that CRRC had reportedly backed out due to unassured future business, Mahajan said, “Apart from 69 Nagpur coaches, we know they had order for 100 Kolkata coaches too.”

Dixit, however, clarified that “the 69 coaches initially required for phase I of Nagpur metro will anyway be supplied by CRRC only.”

When asked about the feasibillty of MAHA-Metro project, Dixit said, “Metros rail is already becoming a reality in 13 Indian cities. We are also planning to extend the Nagpur metro to some towns around the city in the next phase for which we will need more coaches. Plus, we are going to need at least 100 coaches for Pune metro and about 70-100 for Thane. Their subsequent phases will also need coaches. So, MAHA-Metro unit will always have a business.” Dixit added: “CRRC’s Kolkata coaches supply was to be done directly from China. They were not going to manufacture them at Nagpur unit.”

Dixit said that the state government will partner with the Centre to equally share the cost of the project. “The offer, however, for partnership will be open to others as well, including CRRC,” he also said, adding, “in any case, since the financiers here from abroad, i.e. Germany, there is no escaping international bidding as per the financier’s condition.”

Asked how an inexperienced MAHA-Metro will measure up to the challenge, Dixit said, “the experience has to start somewhere. In any case, it’s going to be an assembly unit with all major components like propulsion system and braking system being imported.”

Dixit said that the detailed project report (DPR) for the coaches unit will be ready in the next two months and MAHA-Metro is hoping to start production in a year after that.