Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) has entered the race for a mega ₹58,000 crore contract to manufacture and maintain as many as 200 Vande Bharat trains for the next 235 years.
To this end, tbe central public sector undertaking has formed a consortium with Titagarh Wagons, a Kolkata-based railway wagon manufacturer. Also, with BHEL’s entry, as many as five entities have entered the fray to win the contract. The other four are: French railway major Alstom; Medha-Stadler (consortium between Switzerland’s Stadler Rail, and Hyderabad-based Media Servo Dives); Germany’s Siemens, and Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML); and Russia’s Transmashholding which has partnered with an unnamed Indian firm.
Meanwhile, the ₹58,000 crore contract is divided into two parts: a ₹26,000 crore upfront payment on the delivery of the trains, while the rest ₹32,000 crore will be paid to the bid winner over a period of 35 years, for the maintenance of these trains.
The bids will open within the next forty-five days. According to the tender document, the winner will have twenty-four months to produce a prototype of the sleeper class of Vande Bharat trains; the Indian Railways is targeting to roll out the first Vande Bharat with a sleeper class by the first quarter of 2024. At present, these have only chair cars.
A semi-high-speed, electrical multiple unit (EMU) operated by the Railways, Vande Bharat began its journey in February 2019, when the first train – between New Delhi and Varanasi – was launched. Subsequently, services commenced on four other routes : New Delhi-Katra (October 2019), Mumbai Central- Gandhinagar (September 2022), New Delhi-Amb Andaura (October 2022), and Chennai Central-Mysuru (November 2022).
More such services are in the pipeline.
(With PTI inputs)