Railways mulls JV for High-speed Coaches, Locos under the Make in India initiative

New Delhi: Railway Board is considering going for joint ventures possibly with the private sector to manufacture high-end coaches and locomotives used in long haul trains under the Make in India initiative. Currently, these are made in Railways’s own factories.

Collaboration has been proposed for particularly producing specialised High Horse Power (HHP) locomotives and LHB coaches which are used in air-conditioned trains like Rajdhani and Duronto.

The thinking comes at a time when the Railways is planning to completely shift to high-speed LHB coaches from conventional ones, but failing to achieve the objective mainly because of lack of enough indigenous production capabilities.

It was recently highlighted how lack of production capabilities within the country has now created a crisis of supply of wheels for LHB coaches, all of which are imported, forcing the government to request foreign suppliers like Stork International of Austria and KLW Wheelco of Switzerland to speed up shipments before the scheduled time.

While the wheels are fully imported, the coaches, based on designs of Linke Hofmann Busch of Germany, are now manufactured within the country, but only at the Rail Wheel Factory at Yelahanka in Bangalore.

Railway Board’s additional member (production unit) Arvind Khare has now proposed to manufacture these coaches through the joint venture route also.

“Additional member (production unit) referred to the Make in India policy of the central government, a move that will make the country stand on its own and reduce the import dependence on other countries. He suggested joint ventures to make the policy a success in areas like LHB coaches and HHP locomotives,” a document of the Railway Board dated March 31 said.

While LHB coaches are for passenger trains, the HHP locomotives are needed to move cargo as well, and would be increasingly deployed on the upcoming freight corridors. Promoting facilities to manufacture HHP locos is one such area identified by Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu in its budget speech.

And in March, the ministry allowed up to 74% foreign direct investment in the proposed HHP loco manufacturing unit at two locations in Bihar.