In order to do away with manual testing for rail fractures, the Indian Railways has floated the tender for procurement of 19 self-propelled ultrasonic rail testing (SPURT) cars at an estimated cost of Rs 1,800 crore.
SPURT cars are equipped with advanced detection system of internal defects in rails to prevent derailments.
Besides procurement, the contract also includes operation and maintenance of these state-of-the-art SPURT cars for detection of rail defects. While the supply of 19 SPURT cars is to be completed in 36 months, the operation and maintenance is meant for 84 months.
The procurement and subsequent testing under the operation and maintenance is expected to prevent derailments as the SPURT car will confirm the defects in rails accurately, something which has been lacking in manual testing.
The tender has been floated with the requirements like the manufacturer having supplied SPURT cars in multiple countries and having an experience of testing more than 300,000 km in different railway networks of the world.
These requirements have been formulated and approved by multiple committees based on the past experience of Indian Railways in running the SPURT car and is expected to ensure that well designed and globally experienced companies and technologies are invited.
According to the plan, the Railways will have 18 SPURT cars, as already sanctioned in the rolling stock programme and one SPURT car for dedicated freight corridor (DFC) to ensure requisite safety and reliability on rail tracks.
Rail traffic is increasing exponentially creating pressure on track maintenance. As the maintenance windows are getting shorter and shorter, traditional trolley-based inspections, for ultrasonic flaw detection of tracks, are becoming extremely difficult.
The procurement of these SPURT cars is the latest initiative, amongst many, by Indian Railways to enhance the safety of our tracks and passengers.