India to Sign $6.5 Billion Deal with Russian Firm for 120 Vande Bharat Express Trains

Incidentally, the development of these semi-high speed trains is funded by the government's ambitious 'Make in India' initiative.

New Delhi: Russian-based Transmashholding (TMH) has won the bid for the production, supply and maintenance of 120 Vande Bharat Express trains, Russian news agency TASS reported.

The contract is expected to be signed between Indian Railways and TMH by June 1 this year. The Indian Railways will pay $1.8 billion for supplying the trains and another $2.5 billion for their maintenance over a period of 35 years. Considering indexation, the total value of the contract could be as much as $6.5 billion, the news agency said.

“The decision has been made, but the document itself has not been signed … [it will be signed – TASS) within 45 days from March 29,” chief executive officer Kirill Lipa of TMH said.

The Russian company took part in the tender process jointly with the Indian state construction and engineering company RVNL. It beat out the proposals by companies such as Alstom, Stadler, Siemens, and a consortium of local producers led by Titagarh and Bharat Heavy Electronics Limited (BHEL), which bid the second-lowest.

Each of these 16-car 120 Vande Bharat trains will be produced at the Marathwada Rail Coach Factory in Latur. The trains are expected to be delivered between 2026 and 2030. The first two prototypes, however, will be ready for trials by the end of 2025.

Incidentally, the development of these semi-high speed trains is funded by the government’s ambitious ‘Make in India’ initiative. The first train was developed at Chennai’s Integral Coach Factory and plied between New Delhi and Varanasi in 2019.

According to Railways, a total of 400 Vande Bharat Rakes will be produced in phases. “Manufacturing of 400 Vande-Bharat Rakes is planned in phases within Indian Railway Production Units engaging different Technology partners to be selected through different Tenders. All tenders with MCMA (Manufacturing cum Maintenance Agreement) have already been floated,” said the Ministry of Railways in March this year.

The government plans to manufacture a total of 67 trains or 1,072 coaches by the end of the 2023-24 fiscal year, according to Financial Express. However, the parliamentary standing on railways expressed doubts over meeting targets and pointed out that only eight out of the targeted 36 rakes were produced in the 2022-23 financial year.

At present, 14 Vande Bharat Express trains connect different cities in the country. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to launch another Vande Bharat Express between Thiruvananthapuram and Kannur in Kerala on April 25.