Railways to Stop Manufacturing Vande Bharat Express Rakes This Fiscal, Says Official

New Delhi: No more Vande Bharat Express rakes will be manufactured this fiscal year, Railway Board Chairman V K Yadav said on Monday, adding that the railways delayed production of the third rake due to excessive energy consumption by the indigenous train.

He, however, said the issues with the train have been addressed and 40 more such trains will be produced till March 2022.

Earlier this year, the production of these self-propelled engine-less train sets was stopped at the Integral Coach Factory in Chennai over allegations of favouritism and lack of transparency.

Yadav said bidding under the new specifications will begin by October 31.

"The energy consumption of the train was much more than the world standards. We realised that when we do mass production, we cannot have such high energy consumption. So we decided to review the specifications through RDSO so that they become energy efficient. We will not be able to make any more Vande Bharat Express in 2019-20, but will produce 15 between 2020 and 2021, and 25 in 2021-2022," he told reporters.

The ICF, which manufactured the first two Vande Bharat Express rakes, scrapped all tenders in June for the third rake amid the controversy.

On July 2, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal met representatives of manufacturers and promised a transparent level-playing field to all of them.

Another railway official was quoted saying that the Indian Railways agreed to give reasonable time for submission of bids on the basis of the feedback received by the industry.

The second Vande Bharat Express will go from Delhi to Katra.

Yadav said while the railways has completely eliminated unmanned level crossings, it aims to rid the busiest routes of manned level crossings in the next four years.

"Our focus is of removing manned level crossings on our busiest routes. We have already circulated a draft Cabinet note to remove 2565 crossings in one go at a cost of Rs 50,000 crore. We are seeking 100 per cent funding from the Centre and we hope to eliminate them in the next four years," he said.

The chairman said the idea behind corporatisation of railway production units was to ramp up production so that they are not only capable of meeting all of railways' needs, but also manufacture enough for export.

He said no decision on corporatisation will be taken without consulting all stakeholders.

Yadav said the railways is in the process of developing a policy under which passengers will not only have the opportunity to order food of their choice through e-catering, but also have an option of ordering reasonably priced food.

"We understand that there are different kinds of clients. For people who may not want to spend too much on food, we will get something like a chole bhature, dosa, puri sabji for Rs 50. For others who are willing to spend Rs 200-250, they can order food through e-catering. We are still finalising the details," he said.