The global bidding for the ambitious, Rs 2,700-crore project to manufacture 291 aluminium-bodied coaches has drawn only one consortium.
Though the pre-bid conference had attracted about seven global players and the last date for bid submission was extended from January 29 to February 6, the Stradler-Medha consortium emerged as the only bidder after final submission, it is reliably learnt.
Among others, one of the pre-conditions for the bid was that the manufacturer should have an existing make-in-India facility for bidding.
To be manufactured at the Integrated Coach Factory near Chennai, the project, known as Train-20, aims to roll out 15 lightweight aluminium-bodied trainsets, a first for Indian Railways. Till now, the Railways has had steel coaches.
A trainset is a set of coaches coupled mechanically and electrically with driving cabins at both ends and distributed traction power across the train. The acceleration and deceleration is faster in trainsets as compared to trains hauled by locomotives.
Currently, the authorities are examining the technical aspects of the bid documents submitted by the only consortium comprising Swiss train manufacturer Stradler and Indian rolling-stock maker Medha. This will be followed by the financial evaluation of the bid.
"Now the Railways has to take a call whether to go ahead with the only consortium or opt for re-tendering," said a senior Railway official in the know of the bidding process.
Equipped with improved passenger comforts, an automatic door system and 160 km per hour maximum speed, the trainsets -- with both seating and sleeper berths -- are expected to run on Rajdhani routes.
Under the bidding conditions, the first trainset of 20 coaches is to be manufactured, complete in all respects, at the successful bidder's premises and dispatched to the Integrated Coach Factory.
The second trainset onwards, the successful bidder has to supply the components, electrics, furnishing material, etc., to the Integrated Coach Factory, and the assembly of the trainset car body, bogie, painting and furnishing is to be carried out at the factory near Chennai.
There is also the option to manufacture up to 10 trainsets at the successful bidder's premises. However, the last four trainsets and spare coaches are to be assembled at the Integrated Coach Factory.
(Arun Kumar Das is a senior Delhi-based freelance journalist. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)