Indian Railways: A big surprise for Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw. The Railway Minister announced that a tender has been floated for setting up a railway wheel factory where at least 80,000 wheels will be manufactured every year. Also, a blueprint has been developed as an exporter of railway wheels.
Vaishnaw said that for the first time, Railways is opening the facility for private companies to set up rail wheel plants. This ‘Make in India’ plant will produce wheels for high-speed trains and passenger coaches. 80,000 wheels worth Rs 600 crore will be assured purchase from this factory every year.
He said, this is the first time that private companies have been invited to tender for the manufacture of railway wheels. Currently, Indian Railways requires two lakh wheels every year. According to this plan, Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) will manufacture one lakh wheels, the remaining wheels will be manufactured at this new ‘Make in India’ plant.
Vaishnaw said that the tender also mentions the export of railway wheels manufactured at the plant. Currently, the Railways imports wheels from Ukraine, Germany and the Czech Republic and will now export them to the European market. The plant is said to be set up within 18 months. But Russia’s attack on Ukraine has halted wheel purchases and forced railways to look for alternatives.
The railway minister said, “This tender has been made today. Now we have decided to manufacture and export them. India has been importing wheels from European countries since 1960. Now we have decided to manufacture and export them.” He said, after deep technical analysis and discussion, considering the availability of raw materials required for this in the country, this decision has been agreed.
Railway officials have estimated that in-house manufacturing of railway wheels is expected to save a lot of cost to the railways. Almost because 70,000 rupees have to be paid to import a wheel
Also imported high-capacity (rails) for the Bharat Corridor and freight bullet trains will now be manufactured locally, Vaishnaw said.
“Under this Make in India agreement, high capacity railways will be built within the country,” he said. In May, a Chinese company was awarded a contract worth Rs 170 crore to procure 39,000 wheels from China for Railway Bande Bharat trains.