No more Chinese wheels! This Kolkata consortium to supply ‘Made in India’ wheels for Vande Bharat trains


A consortium of Kolkata-headquartered Ramkrishna Forgings and Titagarh Wagons has emerged as the lowest bidder for manufacturing wheels for the Indian Railways’ flagship semi-high-speed Vande Bharat trains.

Announced by railway minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on September 9 last year, a tender was floated towards reducing the world’s fourth-largest rail network’s import dependence by inviting private players to set up a facility to produce these specialised wheels.

The wheels will be used in the Railways’ semi-high-speed Vande Bharat and planned bullet train network.

Also read: How the Ukraine war is making Indian Railways literally reinvent the wheel to become self-reliant

Pune-headquartered Bharat Forge and steelmaker Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) were the next lowest bidders in the process that opened on March 14. However, Ramakrishna Forgings-Titagarh Wagons’ Rs 1.88 lakh per tonne bid eventually proved to be more competitive than Bharat Forges Rs 2.75 lakh and SAIL’s Rs 2.89 lakh per tonne bids.

The winning consortium will set up a modern manufacturing facility in India for forged wheel production and will supply approximately 1.6-million-wheel discs of different rolling stocks of Indian Railways over a period of 20 years at about 80,000 wheels annually.

Reacting to the announcement, managing director of Ramakrishna Forgings, Naresh Jalan, said, “The partnership with Titagarh Wagons is a strategic move towards expanding our presence in the railway segment.”

Vice chairman & managing director of Titagarh Wagons, Umesh Chowdhary added, “We look forward to working in consortium with Ramkrishna Forgings to leverage our synergies and increase our participation in the Atma Nirbhar Bharat programme to contribute to the Indian Railways’ growth.”

However, the biggest challenge before the consortium will be about setting up the manufacturing facility within 36 months from the award date.

Besides, under the contract, the applicable price offered by Railways will get progressively reduced by 2 per cent for three years once production starts. In the fourth year of production, this will be 94 per cent of the quotation over the next 17 years. “The pre-determined price variation clause is applicable for the price on quarterly basis,” the Indian Railways said in a release.

Since the 1960s the Railways has been meeting the requirement for forged wheels required for locomotives and coaching stock from the UK, the Czech Republic, Brazil, Romania, Japan, China, Ukraine and Russia.

The Railways was previously meeting its requirement of wheels for semi-high-speed trains worth nearly Rs 520 crore from China and Russia, with the balance of 40,000 being sourced from SAIL. Following the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, all the import requirements of wheels are currently being met from China.

The requirement of wheels is projected to increase upto 2 lakh from 2026 due to more high-speed trains running on the Indian Railways’ route network, a Railways study has said.