In a big boost to development and employment in the region, Godhni, near Nagpur, under Central Railway will soon get a mega depot to maintain Mainline Electric Multiple Unit (MEMU) coaches.
Nagpur, which is centrally located, is among three cities, after Jaipur in Rajasthan and Tiruchirappalli in Tamil Nadu, where such depots will be set up. “The Railway Board has already given a green signal to set up the unit in Godhni, where huge railway land is available,” said Divisional Railway Manager (DRM) Brijesh Kumar Gupta.
Gupta said Railways have invited financial bids worth over Rs.20,000 crore for manufacturing around 5,000 MEMU coaches at the Kanchrapara rail factory in West Bengal. “The modern and well equipped depot at Godhni will maintain at least 750 MEMU coaches. Earlier, there was a plan to set up the project at Bhusawal but Railway Board decided to go for Nagpur,” said Gupta.
The DRM said it will be a joint venture project and entire tendering process is being handled by the Railway Board. As per the policy decision, there are plans to reduce passenger trains and pitch in MEMU trains. at some locations
“These coaches will be equipped with modern facilities like automatic doors, forced ventilation, bio-toilets, regenerative braking, and better interior design. The stainless steel coaches will run faster than the existing coaches,” said Gupta.
Central Railway sources said that in June last year, railways had sought requests for qualification (RFQ) for manufacturing 5,000 modern EMU/MEMU coaches over the next 10 years in a joint venture model.
The RFQ got good response as Bombardier (Canada), Siemens Consortium (Germany), Alstom (France), CRRC Corporation Consortium (China), Stadler (Switzerland), Medha Consortium (India) and BHEL, an Indian PSU, qualified for financial bidding. Railways will have a 26% stake in the joint venture project.
Sources said last month a section of officials from Siemens and its consultant visited Godhni. They visited the proposed site, a kilometre away from Godhni railway station. The Siemens officials also conducted a soil survey. “Though modalities are still being worked out, the project is likely to be set up over 1 lakh sq feet area,” they said.
Though MEMUs have been deployed across all railway divisions, Nagpur and its suburbs, which are growing manifold, have still been deprived of these fast trains. With the setting up of Godhni depot, Nagpur will now get MEMU trains.
Sources said there were 4-5 services operated from Nagpur to places like Bhusawal, Amravati, Amla, Itarsi, and Kazipet, which could be run using MEMUs. Those coaches could then be utilized to clear waiting list of passengers in other mail/express trains.
Railway officials said EMU/MEMU is the most successful and cost-effective option with adoption of few more technologies to match the transport challenge of suburban network all around metropolitan cities. They are popular trains for suburban travel. This configuration of the train is popular not only among commuters but also as a feeder train to main line trains.
Highways & transport minister Nitin Gadkari had proposed MEMUs for Nagpur in 2012. However, after he became minister, the proposal was sent again to the Railway Board. State power minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule too had last year pushed for a local train for daily commuters between Kanhan-Kamptee-Butibori