A tug-of-war has ensued between the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) and the Railway board over the Chennai-based production unit’s move to cancel a Rs 400 crore tender for the acquisition of the state-of-the-art three-phase propulsion systems. This has not gone down well with the railway board.
ICF cancelled the tender a month after floating it on November 15, 2012, citing irregularities in the tendering process. The new systems were proposed to be mounted on existing bogeys of 100 Electrical Multiple Units (EMU) and Mainline Electrical Multiple Unit (MEMU) coaches – providing for a faster and more comfortable travel.
“The ICF needs to migrate to a new technology. The systems proposed to be acquired are more energy efficient and would enable faster acceleration and deceleration for trains. But, possibly because of vested interests, it intends to continue manufacturing EMUs with outdated technology. The Railway Board takes a strict view of this matter”, a senior board official said.
ICF officials, on the other hand, accuse the board of being hell bent on importing an untested technology and without firming up a production schedule.
In a series of letters over past six months, the ICF has raised several technical issues over the acquisition plan. “The tender was floated in a questionable manner and without the knowledge of the then Managing Director”, an ICF official said.
Board officials say that the delay in acquiring the systems is estimated to be causing an annual loss of approximately Rs 50 crore.
“The Railway board has decided to refloat the tender now, while keeping the ICF out of the process”, an official said.