Kolkata (KOAA): Low-maintenance rakes made in China will form the backbone of Metro Railway’s fleet in another two years, breaking the monopoly of the snag-prone AC trains designed and built at the railways-owned Integral Coach Factory near Chennai.
CNR Dalian Locomotive & Rolling Stock Company Ltd has signed a contract to supply 14 trains after winning the transport lifeline’s first global tender in 33 years. The budget of Rs 800 crore covers annual maintenance.
For more than three decades, Metro Railway has had to make do with “assembled rakes” that have been compared with home computers put together with components manufactured by various companies. This is the first instance of a contract to build rakes being given to a company with proven expertise in manufacturing Metro coaches, officials said.
The AC rakes manufactured at the Integral Coach Factory in Perambur have a history of breakdowns, often in the middle of a trip. There have also been complaints about water leakage from the roof because of the allegedly faulty draining system used for the air-conditioners.
The Metro fleet comprises 13 AC rakes along with 23 non-AC trains whose components have been manufactured by various PSUs.
The Integral Coach Factory is building seven more AC coaches to replace the non-AC trains that are long past their use-by date. The first of the lot is scheduled to join the fleet by the end of this year.
Sources said several components of the new rakes were imported.
Maintenance of rakes has always been a problem for Metro Railway because none of the Indian companies has the expertise to produce rakes on its own. “The Indian Railways suffers from a split personality,” Rakesh Mohan, economist and former deputy governor of the RBI, had stated in a 2001 report on the state of the railways.
Mohan’s argument was that the railways saw itself as a commercial organisation even as it hung on to the coat-tails of the government and characterised itself as a “social organisation that must be subservient to the social needs, as deemed fit by the government”.
By trying to strike a balance between these two roles, the railways floundered in a Soviet-era planning where it attempted to do everything: building rails, laying out tracks, building its own wagons and rolling stock at its six production plants in the country. In most countries, the railways have abandoned such a sweeping role because it is neither efficient nor profitable to do all things on their own.
In Calcutta back in 2010, the rakes built in Perambur came with defective doors and the German software had to be redesigned to allow them to function in overcrowded rakes where passengers often lean on the doors.
Railway officials insisted that the new batch of rakes would be free of such problems. They said the Integral Coach Factory was not given the contract to supply the new generation of Metro rakes because the railways didn’t have the technology to minimise power consumption while making rides smoother and the passenger information system more effective.
The railways-owned Research Designs and Standards Organisation, in Lucknow, has developed similar technology that has yet to be used by the Integral Coach Factory.
Metro officials said the rakes built by Dalian were meant not only for the north-south routes but also the under-construction Joka-BBD Bag and New Garia-Airport lines.
The global tender for 14 AC rakes, floated in 2011, had attracted some of the bigger names in coach manufacturing, including Bombardier. The Bangalore-based public sector unit BEML was in the fray too.
Dalian promises rakes that will be more comfortable and twice as economical as the existing AC fleet. “The rakes will look like those of the Delhi Metro. They will come with an in-built passenger information system that is expected to be far better than what we have now,” a Metro official said.
Dalian’s website mentions that the company has exported locomotives to South Africa and New Zealand, among other countries.
“The company is able to produce diesel locomotives, electric locomotives, urban transit LRVs, high-power medium-speed diesel engines and a variety of locomotive fittings…. It also can repair or modify diesel locomotives. The company has the capacity of producing 600 locomotives, 300 urban transit LRVs and 500 diesel engines annually,” the website states.
About CNR Dalian Locomotive & Rolling Stock Company:
CNR Dalian Locomotive & Rolling Stock Company Ltd. originally founded in 1899 is a wholly-owned subsidiary of CNR. As a key large-scale state-owned enterprise, the Company is able to produce diesel locomotives, electric locomotives, urban transit LRVs, high power medium speed diesel engines and a variety of locomotive fittings. In addition it also can repair or modify diesel locomotives. The Company has the capacity of producing 600 locomotives, 300 urban transit LRVs and 500 diesel engines annually. Nowadays, the Company covers a total area of 900,000 m2, has 8600 employees, and owns total capital assets of RMB 6 billion yuan.
Since the foundation of the People’s Republic of China, the Company has successively experienced six large scale technology transformations and step by step turned into a modern enterprise being able to design and manufacture high-level diesel locomotives independently from an old works who could only repair steam locomotives. In 1954 the Company realized a historic transition because it was capable of manufacturing steam locomotives than repairing them, thus became the first manufacturer of designing locomotives in China. In 1956 it successfully designed and manufactured China’s first “Heping” steam locomotive used for main lines. In 1958 it successfully self-designed and self-manufactured China’s first “Julong” diesel locomotive, filled the blank in locomotive industry and provided a good foundation for national locomotive development. In 1965 the Company realized another historic transition, turned into China’s first diesel locomotive manufacturer rather than a steam locomotive manufacturer. In 1969 the Company successfully designed and manufactured DF4 high power diesel locomotive. In 1974 DF4 diesel locomotive were produced in batches which ended the history that China can not independently design and manufacture high power diesel locomotive. In 1986 the Company produced DF4B diesel locomotive in batches. DF4B diesel locomotive won the national gold award and was designated as a national alternative to imported products, ended the history of importing a large number of locomotives. In 1996 the Company successfully designed and manufactured DF4D diesel locomotive for passenger transport and launched into the railway market on a large scale, which became a main type in the first five times of speed increase process in China.
Through several generations’ unremitting efforts and indigenous innovation, the Company has designed and manufactured more than 50 kinds of locomotives as the main force for national railway passenger and freight transportations. Now its total output accounts for over 50% of the same reserved product in domestic loco market, covering every railway bureau and equipping tens of depots in China, entering large-scale enterprises and local railway markets in many fields such as power stations, metallurgical fields, chemical industry, oil fields, seaports and mines, etc.. Thus the Company is praised as Cradle of Locomotives by national leaders.
For many years the company always persists in a management concept of “technology is the backbone and quality is the life.” The Company owns the National Enterprise Technology Center honored in 1994 and Postdoctoral Workstation. Every year the Company invests large amount of money on developing key technology and introducing test equipment, Costs on technical development have been keeping beyond 3% of the sales revenue. In the technical team with the number of over 3000, one third of which are engineers and technicians for new product development and 300 of which are senior designers. These are the personnel guarantee for the Company to ceaselessly improve its product design level and technical innovation capacity. In the meantime of self-development, the Company is also keen to the technical cooperation and exchange with many world-famous companies. It has successively cooperated with Ricardo, GE, SwRI, Siemens, Voith and other advanced companies. After years of development the Company’s technology system tends to be perfect step by step and its comprehensive strength is at a leading position in China.
In recent years, the Company has seized the historic opportunity of China railway equipment modernization construction. Aiming at“Introducing the Advanced Technology, Jointly Designing and Producing and Creating Famous China Brand”, the Company has established technical co-operations with many famous foreign companies. Meanwhile the Company has also undertaken the Projects of technology introduction, digestion, absorption and re-innovation on diesel and electric locomotives. HXD3 high power AC electric locomotive (7200kW) and HXN3 high power AC diesel locomotive (4400kW), as the main powers in China Round Speed-increase Campaign for freight transportation, have successively put into mass production. A series of the latest world-level products such as 9600kW high power AC electric locomotive with independent IPR and other locomotives are to be equipped for Chinese railways on a large scale. A brand new platform will be set up to promote a fast and sound development.
The Company has exploited urban rail vehicle market, self-designed and manufactured LRVs with today’s domestic advanced level, unveiled the curtain of the metro market and formed a new pillar industry. China’s first unit of LRV with independent IPR was successfully developed in July, 2007. It utilized the most advanced VVVF AC technology in the world, composed of two motor cars plus two trailers with the maximum service speed 100km, operating in Dalian City as a beautiful scenery line, and has been well-received by Dalian citizens. At the end of 2006, the Company undertook the Procurement Contract for LRVs on Shenyang Metro Line 1 and the Extension Line with the total number of 36. On September 1, 2008, the Company took part in the bid for Tianjin Metro Project and won the order of 138.
Over the past few years, the Company has been developing export-oriented economy with great concentration on constructing the export base and actively looking for target markets. The international popularity of its diesel locomotives has been rapidly improved and a good image of credibility has been made. Since 1993 when its diesel locomotive was first exported to Myanmar, a breakthrough of exporting China’s main line diesel locomotives has been realized. The Company has accumulatively exported 246 diesel locomotives to more than ten countries such as Myanmar, Nigeria, Iraq, Pakistan, Malaysia etc.
Diesel engine is the Company’s core technology advantage with independent IPR. Through technology introduction and independent innovation, its diesel engines have formed four major series, i.e., 240, 265, 270 and 280. The power range covers from 1,000hp to 7,000 hp. The main performance index of the engines has taken the leading position among domestic high power medium speed engines. The technology of its diesel engine has reached the international advanced level and its application fields have been expanded constantly. Besides being mounted to diesel locomotives as usual, its diesel engines are being applied in many fields such as marine, generator-set and mechanical engineering markets etc.. The Company has signed contracts on the supply of marine diesel engines and auxiliary equipment with many enterprises since 2005.
The Company has actively promoted the modernization of enterprise management. Since the Company attached importance to the information construction such as, opening the internal internet, realization of OA and computerization for products developing, designing and manufacturing, a framework of enterprise network has been basically established and Certificate of Demonstration Enterprise for State 863 Plan CIMS application was granted. The quality assurance system has been improved. The Company successively passed ISO9000 for diesel locomotives and ISO9001 for wagons in 1995. In 2001, the Company began to operate in conformity with the new standard ISO9000 and was able to provide reliable quality assurance for domestic and overseas customers. The Company has fully implemented friendly environment and clean production and passed ISO14000 and OHSMS18000 in 2002. After the supervision and conversion audit by China United Certification Center (CCLC) for its OHSMS, the Company obtained a new version of Environment Management System Certificate in 2005, smoothly passed the review and acceptance by the expert group of Safety and Health Association of China Mechanical Industry, became a first Class A enterprise in Dalian in terms of safety & quality standardization and ranked into the first batches of 33 national Class A enterprises.
For many years, the Company has successively won dozens of honorable titles such as National Top Ten Enterprise, National Advanced Enterprise, National Quality Management Award, National Advanced Quality & Benefit Enterprise, State Jinma Award for Enterprise Management—the highest award in quality control of enterprises, A Garden Factory, National Users Satisfactory Enterprise, Top 100 Enterprises for Core Competence in China Machinery Industry. Jiang Zemin, General Secretary of P.R.C., wrote an inscription for the enterprise at the 100th anniversary of its founding on May 28, 1999. He said, “Keep a foothold in China, march to the world and strive to develop Chinese locomotives industry”. Hu Jintao, China’s Vice President, put forward his ardent expectations to the enterprise on June 11, 2002. He said, “Your enterprise is a senior factory with more than 100 years history, which should be also managed to be a first-class locomotive manufacturer.” Two Chinese leaders have pinned high expectations with the Company and both of them not only affirmed the Company’s achievements, but also pointed out the way forward for the development of the Company. On July 1,2006, Li Changchun, member of Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee came to inspect and praised the Company as a “‘national team’enterprise, bearing the historic responsibility to revitalize our national industry”.
Shouldering the historic mission of “Join the World, Drawing the Future” and striving to accomplish the good prospect to become a world-class enterprise in railway transportation equipment industry, the Company is ready to take advantage of its good situation, speed up its development and make a rapid advancement in the process of fully gearing to international standards.