Indian Railways to get first aluminium coaches by early 2022; why it’s significant

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Indian Railways is likely to get its first batch of aluminium bodied coaches by February 2022. In a technological shift for railways, the Modern Coach Factory (MCF) in Raebareli is looking to manufacture aluminium coaches. The first set of 3 coaches for Kolkata Metro are expected to be ready by early next year, a railway official told TOI. Eventually, Indian Railways hopes to get aluminium coaches for Rajdhani and Shatabdi Express style premium trains.
MCF has signed a Rs 128 crore contract with South Korean firm Dawonsys for this ambitious project. The execution of the project has been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic hitting both India and South Korea. The design for the metro coaches will likely be finalised by the end of this month. “The South Korean firm will share the designs and once MCF approves they will be made in South Korea and brought in India in knocked down condition,” the railway official told TOI.
“To begin with they (Dawonsys) will manufacture these coaches in South Korea and slowly the transfer of technology will take place to MCF,” the official added. The three standard gauge metro coaches will include two driver motor cars and one trailer coach with a speed potential of 100 kmph.
Also read: Indian Railways’ MCF Raebareli sets new coach production record in July
The contract also has provision for manufacturing 8 broad gauge locomotive-hauled coaches. These include; three AC-3 tier Sleeper coaches, two AC-2 tier sleepers, one AC-1 sleeper, one AC hot buffet car and one AC DSLR with Driver/Guard cabin. These Rajdhani style sleeper coaches will have speed potential of 160 kmph. Of these 8 coaches, 4 will come fully assembled and the rest will be received in knocked-down condition and assembled here. The South Korean firm’s staff will provide hands-on training to MCF officials as part of the deal.
Additionally, designs for self-propelled aluminium coaches with speeds of up to 225 kmph will be provided. This will help MCF manufacture Shatabdi style aluminium coaches. The self-propelled coaches will enable Indian Railways to run superior train sets in line with its aim to connect major cities with chair car train services.
Why aluminium bodied coaches?

  • Lighter compared to stainless steel coaches resulting in lower haulage cost and better fuel efficiency
  • Corrosion resistant with an extended coach life of 40 years – that’s 5 more years of revenue
  • Modular interiors with easily removable components during maintenance and retrofitment
  • Less weight allows for increased speed potential on the existing Indian Railways tracks
  • Low life cycle cost with reduced wear and tear of components
  • Hollow extrusion design allows for commendable crashworthiness in case of an accident
  • Less time to manufacture hence increasing capacity for production

Also read: Will new Economy AC 3 Tier redefine rail travel for aam-aadmi?Railway Board has given its nod for making 500 aluminium coaches once MCF has the required infrastructure. The new aluminium coaches will be superior to Shatabdi and Rajdhani Express coaches in terms of comfort, safety, exterior and interior. The technology and prowess to manufacture aluminium bodied coaches will be a feather in the cap for railways which currently makes stainless steel coaches.

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