However, top railway officials say that it is unlikely that even a single coach of Train-18 will roll out of ICF this year or in the near future as top companies have raised concerns about specifications for the procurement of a new electrical propulsion system. In November the specifications set by the Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO) and Indian Railways research wing were released.
Former chief mechanical engineer (CME) of ICF in a letter to V K Yadav said that chairman of Railway Board (CRB) on November 13 “RDSO has exceeded its brief and included items to which likely bidders have objected to in writing,” said Shubhranshu.
His letter is a formal complaint demanding a vigilance inquiry into what he calls the sabotage of the Train-18 project at ICF. Shubhranshu’s letter said the delay in production at ICF has been cited as the reason for floating the proposal of import of 60 train sets (960 coaches) at a cost of ₹25,000 crores. Despite repeated attempts, ICF general manager Rahul Jain could not be reached for comments.
Railway sources told that at least three multinational companies have complained against the specifications, which indicate that the supplier should provide bogies, automatic doors, and a brake system along with the propulsion system.
Railway sources said that RDSO revised the specifications after board officials found fault with the propulsion system in the first two rakes. A vigilance probe is also looking into the procurement of the propulsion system for the first two rakes from a Hyderabad-based company. “The revised specifications will make the competition narrower and the playing field more uneven,” the letter said.
This means ICF would not be able to deliver the third Train-18 before March 2023, even as the nation waits, the letter added. In addition, the production of air-conditioned EMUs for Mumbai suburban and MEMUs for branch lines have also been stalled indefinitely, the letter said. “Now ICF is manufacturing only LHB coaches,” an official said. “We don’t know when ICF will be able to process these tenders due to the issues,” a railway board official said.