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Integral Coach Factory to build ‘Make in India’ metro rail coaches for the country

Chennai: Integral Coach Factory (ICF) is itching for an on-track showdown with the world’s top coach-makers in the hope that it can provide metro rail companies in the country with the most efficient and cost-effective rakes.

The Chennai coach manufacturing unit, owned and operated by the Indian Railways, has approached metro rail companies, including Chennai Metro Rail Ltd (CMRL), for a trial order of one prototype rake — coaches that form an entire train — so they may compare its performance against those manufactured by firms like Germany’s Bombardier and France’s Alstom, whose coaches Indian metro rail companies currently operate.

ICF rakes, made with indigenous technology, can cost just 50% of the price of foreign units, experts said on Tuesday, as the coach-maker flagged off its first high-quality rake for the Kolkata metro in the presence of Railway Board chairman A K Mittal.

A couple of CMRL officials were at ICF when Mittal flagged off the air-conditioned rake for the Kolkata metro that the coach-maker manufactured. ICF will supply a total of 26 such full trains for the Kolkata metro, 14 of which it will send by 2018.

The coach-maker has deliberated for a few years on whether eligibility conditions permitted it to take part in metro rail tenders. The ministry of urban development, which has to give the green light to metros, has communicated with ICF, asking for details on the proposal, senior ICF officials said.

CMRL, a senior official of the company on Tuesday said, is already in talks with ICF for the supply of coaches, or ‘rolling stock’ in railway parlance, but currently does not have any requirement.

ICF has managed to use high-end technology like a three-phase IGBT-based propulsion system, regenerative braking (which saves 30% of energy consumed) and conical springs for smoother rides. The ICF officials said the new rake matched international standards. The cost of each rake, which can carry 3,050 passengers, is Rs 40 crore, or half the cost of an imported metro rake.
But ICF faces a challenge because the coaches it manufactures are for broad-gauge tracks and metro rail systems use standard-gauge coaches.

“We redesign the bogies and body to suit standard gauge,” a senior ICF official said. “It is not a major problem.”
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