AIRF opposes Railways to purchase trains

Efforts for making Metro coaches under the Make in India initiative are being scuttled by specifying international experience as an eligibility norm.

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DELHI (Metro Rail News): On Sunday All India Railwaymen Federation (AIRF) working president N. Kannaiah said that buying trains is not a viable proposition as it would not only burden the organisation financially but cost thousands of employees of their jobs in the long run.

The making of Train18 (Vande Bharat Express), and Tejas Express rakes are examples of how our production units can deliver world-class products. The production capacity of ICF increased from 1,437 coaches per year in 2009-10 to 3,200 coaches in 2018-19. But the manpower has been drastically cut.  

Reacting to the idea of the Railways to buy train sets, EMU and MEMU from private players, he said production units such as the Integral Coach Factory, Chennai, and Modern Coach Factory, Rae Bareli, had state-of-the-art technology and infrastructure.

Buying a readymade train from private firms is not new to the Railways. The trains run by Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL) were procured as a complete set from Alstom that has a facility in Sri City.

“But, procurement from trade, whether imported or indigenous, has always been at exorbitant prices. In fact, in all Metro tenders, the production units of Indian Railways were kept out by cleverly making the international experience one of the criteria for consideration. Ironically, efforts for making Metro coaches under the Make in India initiative are being scuttled by specifying international experience as an eligibility norm. Now, with the procurement of trainsets from the trade it looks like the end of the road for Railways’ in-house production units”, the official added.

The cost of Train18 rake in the global market is ₹245 crore whereas ICF engineers rolled out the train at a cost of ₹97 crore,” he said.

Alleging that the Chairman, Railway Board, was going back on his assurance that there would be no more privatisation when a delegation of ARIF leaders met him in New Delhi recently, he said corporatisation was the first step towards privatisation.

“We also make coaches for the Indian Army and several neighbouring countries. The manpower, infrastructure and technology of ICF is among the best in the world and the current target is to roll out 4,000 new coaches,” a senior ICF official said. A majority of union leaders, officials and staff was opposed to the privatisation policy of the railways.

“They (the railway management) have now decided to hand over two trains in each zone to private parties. I am told that the Delhi-Lucknow-Delhi and Chennai-Madurai-Chennai Tejas Express trains would be given away on lease for ₹60 crore each.

“The next step would be to give away the Vande Bharat Express...how can they give away profit-making trains,” he wondered.

Mr. Kannaiah, who is also the general secretary of Southern Railway Mazdoor Union, said the spirit of ‘Make in India’ initiative was to protect and promote local talent in national growth and not bring in multinational companies to manufacture and deliver their products here.

He said, “The AIRF which has about 10 lakh members in 16 zonal railways and 7 production units will go all out to prevent further privatisation of the Indian Railways. This is a income generating organisation.”

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