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Loco-free Train Sets to be maintained by private player

Loco-free Train

New Delhi:  In a major shift, the Indian Railway has decided to hand over maintenance of Train Sets it has proposed to buy to the private player which would supply the rakes, a responsibility hitherto shouldered by the public transporter.

The railway has already floated global tenders for the Rs 2500 cr project involving procurement-cum-maintenance contract for 15 Electrical Multiple Unit (EMU) Train Sets.

A Train Set comprises coaches or rail cars where each coach is powered by a dedicated propulsion system, doing away with the need to have a locomotive haul the train.

According to the conditions in the bidding document, the selected bidder will manufacture and supply 15 EMU Train Sets comprising about 315 rail cars over a period of about 4-5 years and undertake maintenance thereafter for seven years.

The maintenance of a train involves checking of the braking system, wheel, bogies, ACs, electrical equipment, pantograph, electric motors and cleaning among others.

Till now, maintenance has been the preserve of the Indian Railway, while cleaning activities have been outsourced.

“It is for the first time that Indian Railway is allowing a private player to do the maintenance also which is paradigm shift,” sources close to the development said.

However, operational responsibility for the Train Sets will be with the Railway.

The move has not gone down well with the All India Railwaymen’s Federation. Its General Secretary Shiv Gopal Mishra said, “It is a clear cut privatisation move as maintenance job will be managed by the private player, thereby taking away a key area from the Railways.”

However, a senior official involved in the Train Set project strongly defended the bidding condition, saying “Since it is a new technology and Train Sets are going to be introduced for the first time, it will be the responsibility of the selected bidder to maintain it also. Railway staff will also be there to learn the maintenance system during the contractual period.”

He said since the train’s life is about 30 years and outsourcing will be only for seven years, the railways will maintain those after that.

According to him, the global tender for the big-ticket project is in accordance with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious ‘Make in India’ initiative.

The railway aims at reducing the travel time between cities with the launch of Train Set service. Since the Train Set is equipped with quicker acceleration and deceleration system, it reduces travel time significantly.

While the successful bidder will import two Train Sets, the rest would be manufactured in the country, according to the bidding condition.

The project was announced by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu in the Rail Budget for the current year.

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