National Federation of Indian Railwaymen (NFIR), the largest Indian Railways workers union, has opposed the government’s latest move to call global tenders worth Rs 2,500 crore for procurement-cum-maintenance of 15 locomotive-free train sets from private players for 5 years.
Bringing private players in the area of maintenances of coaches is contrary to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement that railways will not be privatised, the trade union body that represents 80% of the Indian Railways’ 1.3 million-strong workforce has said.
“The federation strongly opposes this step of the government as at present maintenance of Electrical Multiple Unit (EMU) trains are being done by the railways staff efficiently and the new Loco-free train sets should be allowed to be maintained by Indian Railways’ supervisors and staff who may be trained in handling new technology,” NFIR General Secretary M Raghavaiah said in a statement.
He added the Federation will meet rail minister Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu seeking a review of the government’s “improper” decision as the existing railway staff is capable of absorbing new skills. The tender is part of a project lined up under the ambitious “Make in India” initiative for procurement-cum-maintenance of 315 coaches which are to be used to enable faster inter-city travel.
Each of the 15 train sets will comprise coaches powered by dedicated propulsion systems, eliminating the need for locomotives to haul these trains. The successful bidder will import two train sets while the rest will have to be manufactured domestically.
The Ministry of Railways had floated the Request for Qualification (RFQs) for the project last month seeking global manufacturers to join the bidding process. The bids are likely to be opened in August for short-listing the qualified bidders. Rail minister Prabhu had said in Bengaluru on Saturday his ministry is looking at setting up integrated transport systems for major cities including Mumbai, Bengaluru and Chennai.