New Delhi: The railway ministry has floated a global tender inviting bids from companies for setting up the much-delayed Rs.1200-crore Rail Coach Factory (RCF) at Kanchrapara in West Bengal. The ministry wants to select a joint venture partner through an open competitive bidding and the tender will be opened in December this year. The factory will manufacture and supply 500 electric multiple units (EMUs), mainline EMUs and metro coaches every year over a 10-year period. The bidding process will be over in March 2016 followed by the announcement of the winning bidder and the award of the contract.
“Around 150 acres of railway land is available at Kanchrapara for the purpose of setting up the factory. The applications as part of the request for qualification (RFQ) are to be submitted by December 10,” said a source close to the development. The contract will be awarded to the party that offers the lowest price per EMU or MEMU. The proposal for the Kanchrapara RCF was announced by then rail minister Mamata Banerjee in her 2009-10 Budget speech and was viewed as a populist initiative.
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu had listed the project in his White Paper, submitted in Parliament along with the Budget speech on February 26, as one of the key projects identified for domestic or foreign direct investment in the railways. The ministry has also revised the cost of the project from the earlier Rs 1,000 crore to Rs 1,200 crore.
The proposal for the Kanchrapara project, considered crucial for West Bengal and the railways, had become a victim of frequent changes in the decision-making process during the UPA’s tenure. The railways had managed to obtain Cabinet approval and budgetary sanction for the project in February 2010. Later, RFQ was invited for the project and eight bidders were shortlisted.
The companies which had shown interest then included Bombardier Transportation India, Alstom India, Siemens AG, Construccionesy Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF), Hyundai-Rotem, Stadler Rail with Titagarh Wagons and ABB, Hitachi and Kawasaki Heavy Industries with Texmaco.
The Kanchrapara plan, however, failed to take off after infirmities in the RFQ came to light.