Integral Coach Factory strong at 60

पेरम्बूर Perambur (PER): Perambur was once a vast stretch of barren land with a few people settled there. Neighbouring Anna Nagar, now a premium micro-market, was so uninhabited that the Railway Protection Force had used it as a firing range then. It all changed between 1949 and 1955, the formative years of the Integral Coach Factory (ICF), which turned 60 on October 2.

In the diamond jubilee years, ICF has not only emerged as a hub of rail coach production, but has also redrawn the skyline of Perambur and its surroundings. M/s.Swiss Cars and Elevator Manufacturing Corporation, Zurich, has to be thanked for letting Perambur occupy a place in railway history. This was the company that transferred technology for broad gauge coach building to India, to the Perambur Coach Factory (as ICF was called for a while) in 1949.

There was no looking back thereon. Bullock carts carried machinery from Chennai Port to ICF in 1949. The barren lands slowly made way for full-fledged workshops in 1955 when the first Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru (along with Indira Gandhi) came to Perambur and inaugurated the ICF (shell division) on October 2, 1955. In barely seven years, ICF had produced 1,000 coaches and expanded into a furnishing division as well, employing over 16,000 workers who settled around the factory. Soon the few settlements turned into colonies, turning Perambur into one of the most densely populated parts of the city. So began the rise of ICF and how Perambur acquired relative fame .


ICF’s date with history has more to it than record production and development of the neighbourhood. Even the likes of Queen Elizabeth II, the first Premier of the People’s Republic of China, Zhou EnLai, spiritual leader Dalai Lama and many more set foot in this vast industrial estate.


ICF had humble beginnings: it started with a capacity of 375 shells in 1955 (its 100th coach being inaugurated in 1957). Today it has set a unique record of producing the maximum coaches in one place, 1,622 in 2013 alone (48,708 till September 2014). Be it the first non-AC coach (1961) or Rajdhani (1980) or Garib Rath (2006) or the Palace on Wheels and Maharaja Express, everything was crafted to perfection with nails and hammers at the ICF workshop.