India to Export Forged Wheels for Railways

Union Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw announced recently that India is on the cusp of becoming a major exporter of forged wheels used in trains, after being an importer for over six decades. The minister revealed that a new plant being set up in Gummidipoondi near Chennai will start producing forged wheels for Vande Bharat trains in the next 16-18 months.

Rs 650 Crore Investment in First Phase

The Minister stated that the plant is a joint venture facility, and the partners have invested Rs 650 crore in the first phase of the project. The plant, which is currently under construction, will have an annual production capacity of 2.5 lakh forged wheels once it becomes operational.
Out of the total production of 2.5 lakh wheels, 80,000 will be used domestically by the Indian Railways for its Vande Bharat trains, while the remaining 1.70 lakh wheels will be exported to other countries. This marks a significant shift for India, which has been importing various types of forged wheels from countries like the UK, Brazil, China, Japan, Russia, and Ukraine for the past 60-70 years.

Russia-Ukraine War Disrupts Imports

The ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine has disrupted the supply chain for forged wheels, leading to delays in imports and supply constraints for the Indian Railways. The establishment of a domestic manufacturing facility for these critical components is expected to insulate the railways from such external shocks and ensure a steady supply of wheels for its fleet of trains.

The Vande Bharat trains, which are indigenously designed and manufactured semi-high speed trains, have been a flagship project of the Indian Railways in recent years. The trains have been widely praised for their comfort, speed, and amenities, and the government has announced plans to introduce more such trains on various routes across the country.

ICF to Develop Standard Gauge Vande Bharat Trains for Exports

Apart from the forged wheels plant, Vaishnaw also revealed that the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) in Chennai will be developing standard gauge Vande Bharat trains, with an eye on the export market. Standard gauge tracks are used in most countries around the world, and the minister said that the railways is looking to export Vande Bharat trains to other nations in the coming years.
The development of standard gauge Vande Bharat trains is a long-term project, and the minister acknowledged that it will take some time before they can be formally launched.

Boost for Make in India and Atmanirbhar Bharat

The establishment of the forged wheels plant and the development of standard gauge Vande Bharat trains are being seen as major boosts for the government’s Make in India and Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India) initiatives. The domestic manufacturing of critical components like forged wheels will reduce India’s dependence on imports and save valuable foreign exchange reserves.
The export of indigenously developed trains like the Vande Bharat will also showcase India’s engineering and manufacturing prowess on the global stage and help the country establish itself as a major player in the international railways market.


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