Three companies, including the state-run Steel Authority of India, have submitted bids to the Indian Railways to set up a manufacturing facility that will supply 80,000 wheels of various types per annum for the next 20 years to the national transporter.
The two other companies which have shown interest in setting up the facility are: the Pune-based Bharat Forge and the Kolkata-based Ramkrishna Forgings, according to a statement from the railways on Wednesday. The Indian Railways had floated a tender and invited bids for setting up a wheels manufacturing plant in the country with assured annual offtake of 80,000 wheels for next 20 years to reduce its dependence on imports. Describing it as an important Make-In-India initiative, the railways said, "The bidding process was very transparent and competitive. Tender was opened on January 24, 2023."
Ramkrishna Forgings has emerged as the lowest bidder followed by Bharat Forge and SAIL, it said. Presently, SAIL supplies at an average rate of Rs 1,87,000 per tonne. The existing domestic capacity of SAIL is 40,000 wheels and RINL is 80,000 wheels (yet to start regular commercial production), making a total of 1,20,000 wheels. The railways has been importing various types of forged wheels required for locomotives and coaching stock (LHB) since 1960s from the UK, Czech Republic, Brazil, Romania, Japan, China, Ukraine and Russia.
This year (2022-23), 80,000 wheels worth approximately Rs 520 crore were imported from China and Russia, with remaining 40,000 being sourced from SAIL. Due to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict, all the import requirement of wheels is being met from China. The requirement of wheels is projected to increase up to Rs 2 lakh by 2026 due to induction of more high speed trains.