The Railway Ministry has directed the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) in Chennai to cancel all tender processes for making rakes of Train 18, now known as Vande Bharat Express, according to The Hindu.
The tenders include purchase of systems for power rolling stock such as traction motors, traction converters and transformers. The Railways Board cancelled all tenders not just pertaining to the rakes of Vande Bharat Express, but also of suburban trains such as Electric Multiple Units (EMU), Diesel Electric Multiple Units (DEMU) and Mainline Electric Multiple Units (MEMU).
The primary reason behind this move is to provide a level-playing field to all suppliers in the making of the flagship train.
Train 18, India's first semi high-speed train ran, into controversies over allgeations that a particular private firm was favoured in the manufacturing process.
The ICF has also been accused of deviating from the specifications given by the Research Designs and Standards Organisation (RDSO). Engineers who were part of the team making the train said that materials readily available were purchased to produce the train in 18 months. However, no compromises were made on the safety front.
The Rs 97-crore train has been in operation for the past six months and was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi between New Delhi and Varanasi in February.
After its successful inauguraton, the railways had planned to run 12 AC locals in Mumbai, six each on the Central and Western suburban lines by the end of March 2020. The Railways had also planned to explore the possibility of running such semi-high speed trains between Mumbai to Pune, Nashik and Vadodara.
However, an official said that the "possibility of rolling out 10 rakes similar to that of Vande Bharat Express by March 2020 seems remote since the design has to be redrafted on the basis of RDSO specifications," according to English daily.
Additionally, hundreds of files on the tenders, sanctions and design specifications on Train 18 have been taken up by officials for vigilance.