Engineers say all Indians should be proud of indigenous Train 18
The engineers add that it is a prototype of which every Indian should be proud, especially because it was made without any transfer of technology from any foreign company.Updated: Feb 18, 2019 23:20 IST
At Perambur’s Integral Coach factory (ICF), engineers involved in the production of Train 18, or the Vande Bharat Express are bemused at some of the negative attention, their “made in India” engine-less train is receiving.
The engineers add that it is a prototype of which every Indian should be proud, especially because it was made without any transfer of technology from any foreign company.
According to S Mani, former general manager of ICF, under whose watch the train was built, this is the first time in the history of Indian Railways that an entire train has been developed indigenously. To stay true to the name (the 18 stands for 2018, and the train would have been launched then, if not for logistical issues), the team had 20 months to develop and manufacture the train – and did it in 18, he added.
“Since it is a unique product without any foreign intervention or transfer of technology, all intellectual property ownership is with ICF and while the cost will come down in subsequent trains, the quality will improve with experience,” added Mani.
According to the engineers who worked on the train, ICF had IPRs (Intellectual Property Rights) for components that go into 80% of the train’s parts. And both the propulsion system and the bogie were developed by local vendors, with only the seats, brakes and doors being outsourced from overseas vendors. That too will change, they added; with 130 trains to be built over five years, it makes sense to develop local vendors.
A senior engineer from ICF who spoke on condition of anonymity said when the approval to build the train came in April 2017, no one had thought that the manufacturing would be completed in 18 months because it normally takes three years to build a train from scratch.
“Mani sir had different ideas. We were determined to come up with train sets without much help from foreign suppliers. Initially, railway board officials insisted we import the train but we insisted it should be made in India,” said the engineer.
A second engineer said for some parts of the train, where there was not much expertise in manufacturing in India, consultants were appointed but added that even in these cases the IPR is with ICF.
Railway minister Piyush Goyal has set a target of 100 more Train 18s, apart from the 29 more which are at different stages of manufacturing.The second Train 18 will be launched by March 2019 and in 2019-20, Indian Railway aims to manufacture 13 such trains.