A New Chapter for Indigenous Train Manufacturing in India: The PLI Scheme
A promising development is on the horizon for India’s railway sector as officials from the Indian Railways unveil plans for a groundbreaking Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme. The scheme’s primary objective is to revolutionize domestic manufacturing of crucial components used in Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) and Vande Bharat train sets. The overarching goal is to position India as a global hub for semi-high-speed train production, with a target to introduce these indigenously manufactured trains to international markets, including Europe, South America, and East Asia, by the fiscal year 2025-26.
The current scenario sees India heavily reliant on imports to source vital components for train manufacturing. The forthcoming PLI scheme is designed to catalyze a transformative shift by encouraging and incentivizing local manufacturers to produce these essential parts domestically. Officials familiar with the matter emphasize that this initiative aligns with the government’s commitment to bolstering the country’s self-reliance and diminishing its dependence on foreign imports.
Striving for Self-Reliance: India’s Indigenous Manufacturing Endeavors
In recent years, the Indian Railways has proactively undertaken measures to establish indigenous sources within the country for items that were previously imported. Simultaneously, the ministry is diligently fostering the necessary production capacity by not only leveraging its own workshops but also partnering with both public and private sector units. This strategic approach encompasses the development of components boasting indigenous designs and competency.
A notable consequence of India’s dedicated efforts in boosting domestic manufacturing within the rail sector is the burgeoning confidence within the Indian Railways. An official within the organization confidently asserts that at the current pace, it won’t be long before global demand for trains pivots towards India.
According to official data, the Integrated Coach Factory (ICF) of Indian Railways, which boasts a legacy of 65 years, has already exported a substantial number of railway coaches, shells, and other integral components to various countries. Notably, India has successfully supplied trains to Mozambique, signaling its growing influence in the global rail manufacturing landscape.
Undoubtedly, a significant stride towards international recognition is the fact that the ICF has facilitated the export of components produced in Chennai to a diverse array of 14 countries. These nations include Thailand, Burma, Taiwan, the Philippines, Tanzania, Uganda, Vietnam, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Mozambique, Malaysia, Angola, and Sri Lanka. This global reach vividly underscores India’s emergence as a formidable player in the international rail manufacturing market.
Reiterating the ambitious scope of this initiative, the same official mentions that by the fiscal year 2025-26, India aspires to witness the realization of its vision: selling Vande Bharat semi-high-speed trains across the globe, particularly targeting markets in Europe, South America, and East Asia.
The Remarkable Progress of Indian Railways Since 2013-14
In the fiscal year 2013-14, the Rail Wheel Factory (RWF) situated in Bengaluru accomplished the production of 45,233 wheel-sets. This achievement included the manufacture of 1,88,188 wheels and 77,406 axles. Fast forward to the fiscal year 2021-22, and the RWF in Bengaluru significantly escalated its production figures, manufacturing 1,22,725 wheels, 86,272 axles, and 48,883 wheel-sets. Additionally, during the same period, the Rail Wheel Plant (RWP) in Bela contributed to this progress by manufacturing 23,051 wheels.
The Rail Coach Factory (RCF) located in Kapurthala has witnessed commendable growth in its production capabilities. In the fiscal year 2013-14, the RCF manufactured 1,550 coaches, a category encompassing 102 Main Line Electric Multiple Units (MEMUs) and 388 lightweight Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) coaches known for their superior passenger comfort and amenities. Transitioning to the fiscal year 2021-22, the RCF’s accomplishments were even more impressive, as it successfully manufactured 1,862 coaches. This feat included the production of 1,840 LHB coaches and 22 MEMU coaches.
The Integral Coach Factory (ICF) in Chennai is another pivotal contributor to India’s remarkable rail manufacturing journey. In the fiscal year 2013-14, the ICF produced 1,604 coaches, spanning various types such as 21 Electric Multiple Units (EMUs), 92 Diesel Electric Multiple Units (DEMUs), 33 self-propelled high-speed accident relief trains (SPART), and 25 LHB coaches. By the fiscal year 2021-22, the ICF’s contributions had soared to new heights, with a staggering production of 3,101 coaches. This encompassed 248 three-phase MEMUs, 18 high-speed Self Propelled Accident Relief Trains (SPART), 32 coaches tailored for the Kolkata Metro, 2,639 LHB coaches, 55 (DETC)/inspection cars, and 109 coaches designed for Sri Lankan Railways.
In a transformative addition, the Modern Coach Factory (MCF) located in Raebareli commenced operations in 2012 and rapidly carved its presence. In the fiscal year 2021-22, the MCF achieved a remarkable feat by manufacturing 1,875 LHB coaches, a contribution that even extended to 63 coaches supplied to the Mozambique Railway.
The Chittaranjan Locomotive Works (CLW) displayed its prowess in locomotive manufacturing by producing 264 BG electric locomotives during the fiscal year 2013-14. However, this accomplishment was notably surpassed in the fiscal year 2021-22, as the CLW recorded the production of 486 state-of-the-art HHP BG electric locomotives.
Further expanding the locomotive manufacturing landscape, the Banaras Locomotive Works (BLW), previously known as the Diesel Locomotive Works (DLW) in Varanasi, played a pivotal role. The fiscal year 2013-14 witnessed the production of 304 BG diesel locomotives, which included 266 indigenous high horsepower locomotives. Subsequently, the fiscal year 2021-22 marked a new milestone, with BLW manufacturing 367 BG locomotives.
Wagon manufacturing is a crucial facet of the Indian Railways, catering