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TMH-RVNL JV bids lowest for making 200 Vande Bharat trains

Russia’s largest rolling stock maker Transmashholding (TMH) has emerged as the lowest bidder for the tender to manufacture 200 Vande Bharat trainsets in India.

TMH’s company Metrowagonmash based in Russia’s Mytishchi, in partnership with Railway PSU Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL), has quoted Rs 120 crore per trainset — the lowest by a long margin, at a time when New Delhi is under pressure to reduce its trade ties with Moscow.

Indian engineering major Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) and Kolkata-based Titagarh Wagons tie-up has emerged as the second lowest bidder quoting Rs 139.8 crore per trainset.

The tender, the biggest Vande Bharat induction call in one go by India so far, seeks to bring in sleeper versions of the marquee train, along with the current seating-only types.

Among other three bidders, BEML in partnership with German major Siemens quoted the third lowest rate at Rs 145 crore per trainset.

French rolling stock maker Alstom stood at the fourth spot while Swiss company Stadler in partnership with Hyderabad-based Medha, suppliers of the propulsion system of the current Vande Bharat, has quoted the fifth lowest rate.

The offer is to manufacture the trainsets in India and deliver them in a phased manner in about 2-5 years while also looking after the maintenance of the trainsets for 35 years. The trainsets will be manufactured in the railway factories in India like Latur in Maharashtra, Sonepat in Haryana, and ICF Chennai.

This is TMH’s first foray into getting a piece of the Railway business pie in India. Railway Board sources said the plan is to divide the order into first two lowest bidders in a 60-40 ratio. While the lowest bidder will get to make 120 trainsets, the second-lowest bidder, if it agrees to match the lowest bid, would get an order of the remaining 80.

While the TMH-RVNL combine has quoted the rate for 200 trainsets, the BHEL-Titagarh group quoted for 120 trainsets. “As per rules, we will ask the second lowest bidder to match the rate of the lowest bidder and manufacture 80 sets,” said a senior Railways ministry official.

If BHEL refuses, the offer to match the lowest bid will be made to the rest and if none of them agrees to match the rate then the TMH-RVNL will get to manufacture all 200 sets, sources said. “The tender condition says the maker can bring its own design or replicate the existing design,” said another official.

“The emergence of Russia’s Transmashholding as the lowest financial bidder and the consortium of BHEL and Titagarh Wagons as the second lowest bidder present a challenge for the timely production of the Vande Bharat trains,” Sudhanshu Mani, former General Manager at ICF Chennai, the maker of the first set of Vande Bharat, said. “Although the quoted rates appear to be very aggressive, it may be so due to TMH’s desperate quest to enter the Indian market. They have no footprint in India and it will not be an easy task for them to deliver in time. It surely is a dampener for competent manufacturers like Alstom, Siemens and Stadler and some uncertainty for this ambitious project,” he added.

Last month, Alstom and a Medha-Stadler combine were shortlisted to bid for 100 Vande Bharat trains made of aluminium, a first in India.

RVNL, a listed company, sent a statutory disclosure to BSE and NSE, saying that it has emerged as the lowest bidder. “Our company policy is to be a player from local rail infra to global all infra,” an official said.