Chennai, Dec 1 : India has the potential to take 50 Train 18/Vande Bharat Express - the semi high speed train designed, developed and built by Integral Coach Factory (ICF) at an outlay of Rs 100 crore, and this would lead to several benefits, said a senior Indian Railways official.
"The supply of 50 trainsets to Indian Railways will result in creation of high-paying jobs as well as several spin-off benefits. About 10,000 new jobs could be created," the officer, speaking on the condition of anonymity, maintained.
"With volumes increasing, there will be component makers who would set up production units here. Any country that has developed high speed trains on its own can march ahead in other areas like aerospace," he added.
The realisation of Train 18 by the ICF is an achievement similar to the development and realisation of the Brahmos missile and Chandrayaan, Shubhranshu, the Chief Administrative Officer of the Rail Wheel Plant in Bihar had told Railway Board Chairman V.K. Yadav in a letter.
With Indian Railways one the largest railway network operators in the world running about 15,000 trains daily and carrying millions of passengers across the length and breadth of the country, an official said that it is imperative for the country to become self sufficient in trains.
"The global railway industry size is about $200 billion. Out of that, tracking and signalling systems are expensive. Most of the demand for railway sector and trains are from Asia (China, India and others) and Africa. China makes it own trains. That leaves out Southeast Asia, East Asia, Bangladesh. We are exporting to Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Jordan and others," the official said.
According to him, the railway market is growing in Asia and Africa.
Officials said the self-propelled trains like the Train 18 are high on technology with systems like power electronics, sophisticated braking systems, reduced noise level for passengers by use of special polymers, high end structural design that prevents a train collapse, suspension mechanism, wheels, bearings, vaccum toilets and other items.
Even the air conditioning system should be such that the coach is kept cool without any cool breeze hitting the passengers.
"One of the major benefits of Train 18 is the development of the Train Control Management System (TCMS). Foreign train suppliers will not part with the TCMS technology," the official said.
According to him, Train 18 has only about 15 per cent import content which will further go down if production volumes increases. The train wheels and part of braking system are imported.
"Nobody is better than India in the broad gauge system. If train imports are to be made, then the foreign suppliers have to design from the scratch resulting in higher outgo," he remarked.
Officials said developing a prototype is one thing but proliferating it is important for further development and advancement.
"Why would anyone buy an Indian product when India itself goes in for imports while killing its own product? Train 18 has touched a peak speed of 180 kmph. Indian tracks are not suitable for trains with a speed of 200 kmph," he said.
With the realisation of Train 18 by India, importing trains will impact the former's spread and ultimately kill the indigenous technological development.
"'Make in India' does not just mean allowing foreign players to set up shop in India and leverage on the country's cheap labour and supply from here. The term also means attaining technological self-sufficiency," an Indian Railway official said.
(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be contacted at email@example.com)