After a delay of nearly nine years, the railway coach maintenance workshop at Harnaut in Nalanda, the home district of chief minister Nitish Kumar is complete and is expected to be made fully functional from October.
Though not officially confirmed, President Pranab Mukherjee may inaugurate the factory during his impending visit to the state in the first week of October.
According to project in-charge Sunil Kumar, the railways has installed machines, including bogie testing appratus, surface wheel lathe, plasma profile cutting machines and other essential plants required for smooth functioning of the workshop.
With an optimum capacity to repair 50 coaches per month, the factory has already started production through its carriage repair shop. "The intermediary overhauling block and periodical overhauling, has been made functional. In the first phase, repair of non AC coaches will be taken up. After augmentation, we will also take up maintenance of the AC coaches," he said.
The Harnaut workshop is being developed on about 115 acres of land - workshop on 78 acres and staff quarters on 37 acres.
Constructed at an expenditure of Rs. 328 crore, it has altogether 18 modern repair workshops. This will be one of the most advanced coach factories in the country with the 'double stacked coach maintenance technology' to carry out periodical overhauling of coaches.
The East Central Railway is one of the biggest zones of the Indian Railways, comprising five divisions - Danapur, Mughalsarai, Dhanbad, Sonepur and Samastipur. It has more than 3,500 passenger coach holding capacity. The old coaches of the ECR were being sent to Liluah in West Bengal for repairs. As per the rules, each coach needs repair after 18 months of running.
The coach factory will have manpower strength of 1,200, including officers and technical staff.
"To begin with, we have nearly 250 employees. The remaining workforce will be filled gradually with expansion of the capacity," he said.
Former President APJ Abdul Kalam had laid the foundation stone for the workshop at Harnaut on June 30, 2003, during Nitish Kumar's tenure as railway minister.