Newly designed rakes for Vande Bharat trains likely only in 2023

The newly designed rake of Vande Bharat Express is expected to roll out of the Integral Coach Factory here around March 2023, railway sources said on Sunday.

Three companies have submitted bids for the multi-crore project to make 44 rakes or 700-plus coaches. According to the tender conditions, the first two prototype rakes for commercial operation should be delivered in 28 months from the date of award of contract. However, the sources said no date had been fixed yet for finalising the tender and awarding the contract.

The Railways had initially tasked the ICF with making 720 coaches for running 45 Vande Bharat Express trains in December 2019. This was after India’s first semi-high speed train evoked a good response from travellers. In the revised Rolling Stock Programme, the target for 2020-2021 has been fixed at 240 coaches or 15 trainsets or rakes, with a possible modification of the goal.

The revision has become necessary for different reasons, including the lockdown and safety measures to control COVID-19 that have slowed the production of coach-making factories.

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