The Railways has planned to redesign passenger coaches as per international standards to make them safer, more comfortable and faster. Focusing on enhancing safety first, Piyush Goyal-led Railway Ministry is replacing all conventional ICF-design railway coaches with modern Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) coaches and the process of modernization of trains is done in a phased manner.
For this purpose, a recent high-level meeting was held in Delhi with members of the Railway Board, including the chairman and general managers of all production units, it was concluded that to change the face of passenger trains, which also involves drastically improving their performance, redesigning coaches is imperative.
The Railways would be willing to start importing complete train sets from foreign suppliers if they agreed to establish the coach manufacturing facility in India, to comply with the ‘Make in India’ policy.
Foreign Suppliers to be appointed for Best Seatings
The Centre has decided to evolve standard eligibility criteria for propulsion systems and corporatize production units like the Integral Coach Factory in Chennai, which is the largest coach making facility in the world, Modern Coach Factory in Raebareli, and Rail Coach Factory in Kapurthala.
It is doing all this, only of foreign suppliers abide by the Make in India policy and not tangle with the idea of disinvestment or privatization. It is believed that doing so will strengthen India’s facility with more infrastructure and better governance.
The Railway Minister said the plan would bring in state-of-the-art technology, managerial autonomy, superior operational efficiency, export capability, employment generation, attract investments and make India an international hub for rolling stock manufacturing.
Railways Focus on ‘Safety First’ LHB Coaches
Piyush Goyal-led Railway Ministry has decided to replace all conventional ICF-design railway coaches with modern Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) coaches. He has already initiated the action for acquiring the technology for manufacture of aluminium body coaches in railway factories.
At present, 411 pairs of trains are operating with LHB coaches on Indian Railways’ network and since 2018-19, the Indian Railways production units are only manufacturing LHB coaches.
Based on German technology, the LHB coaches are safer and also offer better riding comfort, compared to ICF design coaches. They support anti-climbing features that help in avoiding piling up of coaches on top of each other, thereby reducing the chances of a higher number of deaths and injuries, making them safer in case of an accident.
The Railway ministry has been trying hard to prevent rail accidents and enhance the safety of passengers. Consequential train accidents has come down to 59 in 2018-19 from 113 in 2013-14. Death figures have also reduced from 152 to 37. 2018-19 has been declared the safest in the history of the national transporter.
Government Won’t Entertain any Delays in Supplies
In the aforementioned meeting, it was decided that in case of delay in the supply of trains and allied equipment, heavy penalty will be imposed, so as to ensure the seriousness of on-time and faster production and greater commitment from suppliers.
Latest technology will be used to reduce costs of propulsion equipment and train set. According to a senior official, worldwide, passenger rakes have become lighter, which enable them to easily negotiate crossovers.
Goyal also emphasised on the need for making all purchases transparent to ensure a level-playing field. It was also decided that manufacturers who have failed to deliver orders pending for two years will not be allowed to participate in fresh tenders. Sources said that had these rules been enforced earlier, AC rakes in Mumbai would have come on time.