Stuck in Ukraine, Vande Bharat train wheels will be airlifted to India | Latest India News
Import orders from India to a Ukrainian company for thousands of wheelsets for Vande Bharat trains have been affected by the war, but 128 wheels have been transported by road to neighboring Romania and they will be transported by airborne by the railways for trials next month, sources said on Sunday. .
They also said that to achieve its target of launching 75 semi-high speed trains on major routes across the country by the end of this year, India has now placed wheel orders with the Czech Republic, Poland and the United States.
The sources also said that India may also look to China as they also supply wheels.
They said Ukraine, which is one of the world’s largest suppliers of these wheels, has all but halted new production, with most personnel joining the war effort after Russia launched a military offensive. February 24.
With that, they said, the railways’ plan to launch dozens of new Vande Bharat trains this year ran into problems as the entire order placed with the Ukraine-based company – 36,000 wheels at a cost of $16 million – seemed undeliverable.
The sources said payment was to be made through a letter of credit after the deliveries.
The wheels were to be shipped from the Ukrainian Black Sea Port to Maharashtra’s Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), which did not happen due to the war.
However, the sources told PTI that this has not delayed the trials in India scheduled for next month.
“Thanks to the efforts of the Ministry of Railways and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 128 wheels necessary for the test of two trains were sent to Romania by road in trucks from the wheel factory in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine” , said a source.
VK Tripathi, chairman and chief executive of the Railway Board, told PTI. “There are no delays in the manufacturing of Vande Bharat trains. All necessary components, such as wheels and axles, will be delivered on time.”
The axles needed for the wheels were made at the Railway Wheel Factory in Bengaluru.
The sources also said that the decision to place orders with other countries will significantly increase the cost of purchases “because the demand is high and the supply is limited”.
“Besides, Ukraine is the cheapest option,” a source said.
Sudhanshu Mani, former managing director of the Integral Coach Factory (ICF), Chennai and the mastermind behind the Vande Bharat trains, said PTI supplies hit by the Russian-Ukrainian war would not be a serious setback for the railways’ efforts of iron.
“The first rake wasn’t going to come out until May anyway and it would still be in June/July. Last time the wheels were ordered from a Czech company, this time they were ordered from the Ukraine.
“If they get the minimum requirement of 128 wheels for the first rake, they can start trials and then maybe try to speed up deliveries from Ukraine via Romania or another neighboring country or as a measure urgently, or even quickly source from another company,” Mani said.
As the railways focus on keeping Vande Bharat trains on time, more than 70 other trains have to wait for wheels to arrive from new destinations to get on track, the sources said.
“We have a window of two months between the start of the trials of the two Vande Bharat trains and the purchase of the wheels. We should be able to obtain them for all the trains. It is not only India, but the problem is in across the Ukraine is one of the largest suppliers of wheels, so there is bound to be a global shortage,” a senior official told PTI.
Sources say there are fears of a severe shortage of wheels in the global market, with Ukraine holding 70% of European Union orders for freight wagon wheels.
It also means there will be a huge price escalation for India, which the sources say is also dependent on the war-ravaged country for wheels for its other high-end trains.
Officials said the supply of railway wheels is a highly concentrated market with barely 20 factories worldwide.
In her 2022 budget speech, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced that 400 Vande Bharat trains would be manufactured over the next three years, which is expected to cost between ₹40,000 crores and ₹50,000 crores.
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