Indian Railways plans to export ‘made in India’ semi high speed Vande Bharat trains to Europe, South America and other Asian countries.
A 59 km testing track is planned in Rajasthan to test trains running at a maximum speed of 220 kmph, manoeuvring a variety of curves.
The cost advantage of Vande Bharat trains could make it a strong contender in foreign markets.
By 2025-26, Indian Railways plans to become an exporter of the semi high speed ‘Vande Bharat’ trains.
With a view on markets in Europe, South America and East Asia and to make these ‘made in India’ trains export ready, railways aim to clock 10-12 lakh kilometres on 75 Vande Bharat trains over the next few years.
“The ecosystem to export trains has to be created over the next two to three years. We are on track to manufacture 475 Vande Bharat trains in the next three years and once they run successfully… there will be confidence in global markets about our product. The Vande Bharat trains meet all international standards,” a senior official told PTI.
“In fact, the national transporter is constructing a 59 km testing track between Gudha-Thathana Mithri in Jodhpur Division (about 70 Km from Jaipur) for carrying out tests/trials of various rolling stocks. This track can test trains running at a maximum speed of 220 kmph, manoeuvring a variety of curves. The track will be ready by January 2024 and trains which will be exported will be tested here for prospective clients,” an official said.
While the current Vande Bharat trains are fit for broad gauge, Railways will customise the trains to run on standard gauges used by many countries across the world.
The manufacturing cost of a 16-coach Vande Bharat train is around Rs 130 crore.
The cost advantage of Vande Bharat trains could make it a strong contender for any country looking to strengthen inter-city travel infrastructure.
Also, in another significant development, 100 of the 400 Vande Bharat trains to be manufactured by 2025 will have tilting technology to enable trains to manoeuvre curves at higher speeds, just as a motorbike on a winding road.
300 more Vande Bharat trains?
The Union Budget for 2023-24 will likely announce 300 more Vande Bharat trains. If budgetary support comes through, the country will produce 800 train sets in the next five years.
The gross budgetary support (GBS) to Indian Railways for the next fiscal is also set to increase substantially from Rs 1.37 lakh crore in the last financial year in the rail sector.
Also, Indian Railway has finalised tenders for 502 Vande Bharat trains, of which 200 trainsets would have a sleeper facility.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked the Railways to produce at least 75 Vande Bharat trains by August 2023 to launch the services connecting 75 key cities as part of the central government’s plans to celebrate 75 years of Independence.
Until now, only five such trains have been manufactured at ICF, thus posing a big challenge for the Railways to meet the target of 75 by Independence Day next year.
According to the original roll out plan, five trains were scheduled to be manufactured in November 2022 while seven trains were to be ready in December.
Currently 250 staff are being deployed round the clock for the furnishing job of the Vande Bharat coaches, according to the ICF.