Kanchrapara Rail Coach Factory identified for Domestic or Foreign Direct Investment

Kanchrapara (KPA): The proposed rail coach factory at Kanchrapara, announced in 2009-10 by then railway minister Mamata Banerjee, in 2009-10 when she was railway has not been shelved. The white paper submitted in Parliament by railway minister Suresh Prabhu on February 26 lists it as one of the projects identified for domestic or foreign direct investment in the railways. The ministry of railways has also revised the cost from Rs 1,000 crore to Rs 1,200 crore.

The ministry wants both factories to be built on Build Operate Transfer (BOT)/Build Operate Own (BOO)/Joint Venture (JV) or Annuity basis. The Kanchrapara factory will have to build 500 EMU/MEMU coaches every year and the contract will be awarded to the party that offers the lowest price per EMU/MEMU.

“The conventional EMU rakes in the Mumbai suburban network are being replaced with new ones that have regenerative brakes. These EMUs adopt a three-phase technology with Insulated Gate Bi-polar Transistor (IGBT)-based system capable of regenerating 25-30% of the energy utilized. The trains draw power from an overhead source and regenerate energy while braking. The system converts this back to electrical energy, thus reducing consumption,” an railway board officer said.

With the railways requiring more such IGBT rakes, the need for a production unit has gone up. The facility may also come in handy for the railways’ plans to run long-distance trains at 160-200km per hour along existing routes by using imported train sets.

“The train sets will have about 21 AC coaches each with comfortable interiors. As all coaches will have traction, these trains will have greater acceleration and draw less energy. The travel time between two cities will come down significantly. The railways plans to import a few train sets and then start manufacturing them in India. If the factory at Kanchrapara becomes a reality, this facility may be utilized later for manufacture of train sets. Many of these will be required as the plan is to use them for all Rajdhanis and Shatabdis,” the officer said.