By Taazakhabar News Bureau
Almost 60 years after the first coach rolled out of the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) at Chennai, it was a proud moment for the Indian Railways which rolled out its 50,000th coach.
The Integral Coach Factory set up in 1955 manufactures various types of AC and non-AC coaches including EMUs (Electrical Multiple Units) and DEMU (Diesel Electrical Multiple Units).
Participating in the even through video conferencing from New Delhi, Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu said that there have been many changes in terms of quality, interior design, speed, fuel consumption, noise reduction in the coach manufacturing technology since the first coach was manufactured. He dedicated the New LHB Coach (Modern Passenger Coach) Manufacturing Unit at ICF to the nation and hoped that the 100,000th coach will be different from the today’s coach as the technology is changing fast.
The programme was conducted between Rail Bhawan, New Delhi and ICF factory premises Chennai through Video Conferencing. Chairman Railway Board A. K. Mital and other Railway Board members were present at Rail Bhawan while Member NITI Aayog, V. K. Saraswat, Member Mechanical, Railway Board, Hemant Kumar and General Manager, ICF Ashok K. Agarwal, were present in Chennai.
ICF has achieved the distinction of being the only coach manufacturer in the World to manufacture 50000 coaches.
According to Prabhu we need to setup Global Standards in manufacturing rolling stocks. He said that Indian Railway has already signed an MOU with National Institute of Design (NID) to improve internal design of the coaches for better comfort and convenience of the passengers. He said that now dustbins are being provided even in non AC coaches. Regarding LHB coaches, the Minister pointed out that Indian Railways will accelerate production of these modern coaches which have better safety features, higher ride comfort, superior passengers’ amenities and high speed potential. Referring to the quality, The Railway Minister said that there is a need to focus on materials and hence Indian Railways is collaborating with academic institutions like IITs, BHU, Mumbai University etc. to undertake research on these matters and consequently come out with appropriate solutions. Referring to improvement in Loco technology, the Minister said that we should develop triple fuel locos like electricity, Diesel and CNG.The Minister also said that Indian Railways soon will roll out Solar Powered Passengers Coaches.
In his address Chairman Railway Board A. K. Mital said Integral Coach Factory, Chennai, set up in 1955 ranks amongst industrial temples of modern India. The variety of coaches manufactured by ICF is astounding. It ranges from General second class coaches to latest air-conditioned coaches , air-conditioned EMUs, MEMUs, High Horse power DEMU Train sets etc. One of the current prestigious challenges before it is to produce a 160 kmph AC DEMU train sets which would be upgradable to 200 kmph. First train set is expected in the year 2016-17. Developing new products and ideas has been its strength. ICF is today capable of manufacturing about 1700 coaches a year, putting it amongst the majors in the World. ICF has not only supplied coaches to Indian Railways but also exported to other countries like 20 DEMU stainless steel train sets to Sri Lanka and built a brand for itself.
Member Mechanical Hemant Kumar said that since its inception ICF has produced 50,000 coaches of approximately 500 different designs. ICF has turned out a record outturn of 1704 coaches during the year 2014-15 consisting of 44 variants involving high technological inputs, meticulous planning and execution.
ICF is credited with introducing several innovations over the years like provision of Braille signages in the coaches for the benefit of visually challenged persons, provision of CCTV cameras in the coaches, provision of bio-toilets in the coaches etc. ICF is also a fully green coach manufacturer as its entire power requirement is generated by its windmills located in Tuticorin. In fact it has a surplus power balance.
A new LBH manufacturing unit has been established at ICF for a cost of about Rs. 252 Crores to manufacture LHB type stainless steel coaches. This unit is equipped with the most modern machines like Laser cutting and welding machines, Welding robots and fixtures and different types of CNC machines, some of which only exist at this unit in the Country. This unit is a major contribution by Indian Railways in the “Make in India” drive. The new unit has a capacity to manufacture 300 LHB coaches per annum. The first LHB coach was turned out in Sept. 2014 and the plant is now fully stabilized and ready for enhancing its production over coming months. It is planned to completely switch over to LHB type coaches within next four to five years. LHB coaches provide world class features including safety, higher ride comfort and superior passenger amenities. Some major features of LHB coaches are:
• Improved safety through better crashworthiness.
• Provision of Centre Buffer Couplers (CBC) for anti climbing feature.
• Higher Speed Potential as LHB coaches are running at 160 Kmph.
• Better passenger comfort due to improved riding quality.
• Reduction in noise level inside the coach through improved sound insulation.
• Use of environment friendly toilets.