Having produced 1,602 coaches during financial year 2010-11, Kapurthala-based Rail Coach Factory (RCF), a production unit of the railway ministry, would produce 30 stainless steel non-AC Linke Holfmann Bush (LHB) coaches for the first time this year. Currently, stainless steel LHB coaches are used only in the Shatabdi and Rajdhani trains. LHB coaches are of superior quality and safer than conventional ones.
RCF will also manufacture coaches for nine Duronto trains and two double decker trains in the current financial year.
Overall, it is targeting to produce 1,600 coaches this year. Besides, 60 stainless steel shells would be manufactured for the newly set-up rail coach factory at Rae Bareli (Uttar Pradesh). The interiors of the coaches would also be done there. In 2009-10, it produced 1,562 coaches.
Speaking to Business Standard, officials maintained that for the first time in the country, RCF would be introducing non-AC LHB coaches for the railways, in addition to other coaches. They added that it had produced 1,602 coaches during 2010-11, including 458 stainless steel high-speed coaches. Also, double-decker AC coaches were developed for the first time last year for increasing carrying capacity.
RCF also exported coaches to Myanmar Railways, Senegal-Mali and other African countries. Commenting upon exports for the current year, an official said, “We have an order of four sets of 16 diesel electric multiple units (DEMU) coaches from Senegal.”
Also, in order to enhance its manufacturing capacity of stainless steel coaches, it has written to the ministry seeking Rs 150 crore for upgradation of technology and infrastructure. With fresh capital infusion, the unit would be able to produce 1,000 stainless coaches per annum against 458 coaches. At present, most of the coaches are made from conventional steel, that is, cotton or mild steel.
Earlier, talking to Business Standard, RCF General Manager Pradeep Kumar said, “We have written to the ministry for funding the new project, which includes enhancing the capacity of stainless steel coaches to 1,000 units per annum.”
It is worth mentioning that from a modest beginning in September 1987, RCF has achieved various milestones and has now become one of the largest coach manufacturing units in the world. It has manufactured more than 24,140 coaches and is now producing more than 1,500 coaches per annum with more than 70 variants including stainless steel high-speed coaches for trains like Rajdhani, Shatabdi & Duranto Express. Further, in order to improve safety of passengers, crashworthy coaches have also been produced here. These are capable of absorbing high-impact energy in non-passenger area of a coach at its ends, while keeping the passenger portion safe.
In order to cater to the growing demand from the railways, it has recently enhanced its production capacity from 1,000 coaches to 1,500 coaches per annum with an investment of Rs 100 crore. Its wheel shop has a manufacturing capacity of 7,600 units per annum.