Railways has scrapped the global tender for its ambitious Rs 2,700-crore project to manufacture aluminium-bodied trainsets after receiving just a single bid.
The new tender, when it is floated, is expected to be in sync with the Modi government’s public procurement order promoting the Make in India initiative, as suggested by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), which had red-flagged the first tender. “The ambitious trainset project will be re-tendered with revised bidding conditions and an enhanced work order to enable wider participation from interested domestic players,” said a senior Railway Ministry official. A trainset is a set of coaches coupled mechanically and electrically with driving cabins at both ends and distributed traction power across the train. The acceleration and deceleration is faster in trainsets as compared to trains hauled by locomotives.
Earlier, the Railways’ Integrated Coach Factory (ICF) near Chennai had floated the global tender for the manufacture of 291 aluminium-bodied coaches. Though the pre-bid conference had attracted about seven global players, and the last date for bid submission was pushed from January 29 to February 6, only one consortium — Stradler-Medha, comprising Swiss train manufacturer Stradler and Indian rolling-stock maker Medha — actually bid for the project. The reason: Certain pre-bidding conditions, including one that stipulated that every bidder should have existing Make in India facilities, and another that insisted on five years experience of supplying to G8 countries. In a letter to Railway Board chairman Ashwani Lohani, the DIPP raised objections to the tender, observing that the bidding conditions were not in line with the government’s public procurement policy. It sought clarifications from the state-run transporter.
The DIPP letter came after Titagarh Wagons Ltd., one of the largest private sector railway wagon manufacturers in India, had written to the department drawing attention to the violation of the public procurement order which resulted in elimination of other players. Taking note of the complaint, DIPP, in its letter to the Railways, observed that the eligibility conditions set in the trainset tender “prima facie seem to be non-compliant to the Public Procurement (preference to make in India) order”. Formulated by the Finance Ministry, the policy aims to ensure that the tender conditions are strictly in sync with the public procurement order taking into account the interest of Indian manufacturers.
DIPP, in its letter, pointed out: “The stipulated requirement that the bidder should have prior experience in supplying to G8 countries in the last five years would most certainly go against the domestic manufactures and in favour of a restricted number of global players — there is no justification for taking supply to G8 countries as a condition.” The Railway Ministry took note of the DIPP observations and decided to go for a fresh tender.
The new tender will have revised bidding conditions and an enhanced work order, enabling wider participation by interested players, sources close to the development said. The work order is expected to increase up to 500 trainset coaches instead of just 291. Proposed to be manufactured at ICF, the ambitious project, known as Train-20, envisages rolling out 291 lightweight aluminium-bodied trainset coaches, a first in Indian Railways. The trainsets are equipped with improved passenger comforts, automatic door system and 160 km per hour maximum speed. They will have both seating and sleeper berths and are expected to run on Rajdhani routes.