China's CRRC becomes only foreign player in race for India's Train 18

Topics Indian Railways | CRRC | Train 18

According to industry experts, it may take at least two-and-a-half years for the next Train 18 to see the light of day Photo: Twitter
China’s state-owned firm CRRC China has participated in a global tender for the Train 18 project, becoming the only foreign player in the bidding process, at a time when bilateral ties have taken a hit following tensions at border.

Five Indian players also took part in the tender for procuring propulsion systems, or electric traction kits, for 44 train sets. These included Bharat Heavy Electricals and Hyderabad-based Medha Group, which was part of the first Train 18 project, also known as Vande Bharat Express, launched on February 15, 2019.

CRRC Corporation, a rolling stock manufacturer, participated through its Indian joint venture CRRC Pioneer Electric, in which Gurugram-based Pioneer Filmed is a partner. 

Of the Rs 100-crore spent on the first rake, about Rs 35 crore was on the propulsion system. Going by this, the size of the current tender for 44 train sets will come to over Rs 1,500 crore. “We have got bids from six players for the train set tender,” said Vinod Kumar Yadav, chairman of the Railway Board.

The Railways has lined up a plan to completely electrify its tracks by 2023. “By December 2022, all the high density and highly utilised networks, or 96 per cent of our traffic area, will be electrified,” he said. For the Train 18 project, this was the third tender floated to procure key items.

Though bids for 43 Train 18 sets were invited first, orders for only three were given, including one for Spanish major CAF and Medha Group. Following this, a second tender was floated for 37 Train 18 propulsion systems that got cancelled. The current tender is marked by the absence of major industry players like Bombardier, Alstom, Siemens, CAF, Talgo, and Mitsubishi.

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