Perambur Loco Works may give way for ICF Expansion

CHENNAI: The 162-year-old Perambur Loco Works is likely to be phased out to make way for an additional facility of the Integral Coach Factory in Chennai. A proposal to hand over the portion of Perambur Loco Works to the ICF by reducing its current operation has been sent to the Railway Board for approval, according to highly placed sources in Railways.

The decision was taken in the backdrop of the Railways’ decision to increase the production of Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) coaches, since manufacturing of conventional ICF coaches had stopped.

The last old ICF coach was rolled out on January 19 in the presence of Railway Board chairman Ashwani Lohani.

In 2012, the board sanctioned `250 crore to augment the coach building capacity of the ICF upto 300 coaches per month. However, the proposal is yet to take a final shape.  During 2016-17, as many as 2,277 coaches including 1,162 stainless steel coaches rolled out from the factory, consisting of more than 50 variants.

The sprawling 468-acre ICF complex has a shell division that produces skeletons of coaches at the Ayanavaram facility, while furnishing division, designs and development centre and rail museum situated on the New Avadi Road.

The shell division of ICF, Perambur Loco Training Centre, Loco Works and Carriage Workshop are located along the Perambur-Villivakkam railway line.

“The Perambur-Villivakkam-Tiruvallur track is located on the northern part of the ICF shell division, while the western side is fenced with the wall on East Seeyalam 2nd Street in Villivakkam. Hence, the further space is available only in the eastern portion, at the adjacent factory in Loco Works,” said the proposal sent by the ICF.

The Railway Board is also keen on phasing out the loco work shop for ICF expansion as the manufacturing unit has got lot orders in its hand. The annual target of coach manufacturing is likely to get increased to 4,000 LHB coaches in the coming years.

It has also been given the target to manufacture about 150 self-propelled coaches of Train 18 and Train 20 in five years. In addition to this, the ICF also plans to produce efficient three-phase propulsion EMU coaches and 15 coaches for the Nilgiri Mountain Railways for operating between Mettupalayam and Ooty. It has got an export order from Sri Lanka to supply 78 Diesel Electrical Multiple Unit (DEMU) coaches.
The loco workshop that came into existence in 1856 has been doing periodic overhauling for electrical locos of the Southern Railway and other zones.

The combined locomotive, carriage and wagon Periodic Over Hauling (POH) unit and coach-building workshop was later bifurcated in 1932, shifting the locomotive overhaul activity to the new loco workshop.

The carriage workshop performs periodic overhaul for conventional ICF coaches, bogies and maintains wagons.  About 1,996 employees are working in these units. When contacted officials of both Southern Railway and ICF remain tight-lipped and refused to comment.

Last conventional ICF coach rolled out

Last conventional ICF coach rolled out on 19 January as only LHB coaches are to be produced henceforth. In 2012, Railway sanctioned Rs.250 crores to augment the capacity of ICF.  The Perambur – Villivakkam – Tiruvallur track located on the Northern part of ICF shell division, while western side fenced at Villivakkam.  Space available only in the eastern portion – at the adjacent factory in loco workshop.  Furnishing division also could not be expanded due to space constraints in New Avadi road.

Apart from Loco Works, functioning of carriage workshop also likely to get reduced Conventional ICF coaches needs to undergo Periodic Over Hauling (POH) for every 18 months, while LHB the period is for 24 months.  New LHB POH workshop proposed at Golden Rock in Tiruchy. Loco Works came into exitence in 1856. Later, carriage workshop, POH and coach building workshop  were developed. In 1932, Loco Works and carriage workshop was bifurcated. There are about 1,996 employees working in three workshop units. Out of 6,220 coaches in six divisions of SR, 370 are LHB coaches. 1,076 are AC class, 4,774 coaches are sleeper, 2S and unreserved coaches.