The railways said on Friday it has cancelled the tender for manufacturing 44 semi-high speed Vande Bharat Express trains, which was floated last year.
Last month, when the tender was opened, a Chinese joint venture firm — CRRC Pioneer Electric (India) Private Limited — had emerged as the only foreign player among the six contenders for the supply of electrical equipment and other items for the 44 train sets of 16 coaches each.
The JV was formed between the China-based CRRC Yongji Electric Company Limited and the Gurugram-based Pioneer Fil-med Private Limited in 2015.
“Tender for manufacturing of 44 nos of semi high-speed train sets (Vande Bharat) has been cancelled. Fresh tender will be floated within a week as per Revised Public Procurement (Preference to Make in India) order,” the Railway Ministry said in a tweet.
The national transporter, however, did not specify the reason behind the cancellation of the tender.
Sources said the railways is keen to ensure that a purely domestic entity bags the tender and once it was felt that the Chinese JV was a frontrunner for the project, it was scrapped.
Indian Railways’ Integral Coach Factory in Chennai had floated the tender for manufacturing 44 rakes or train sets of semi-high speed Vande Bharat Express trains on July 10.
The other five bidders were the state-owned Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited, the Bharat Industries, Sangrur, the Electrowaves Electronics (P) Limited, the MEDHA Servo Drives Private Limited and the Powernetics Equipment India Private Limited, according to the Railway Ministry.
Earlier, when India and China were involved in a tense border stand-off along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh, the railways had scrapped a tender for thermal cameras meant for “Covid-19 surveillance” after Indian firms alleged that the tender specifications favoured a Chinese company.
The Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Limited (DFCCIL) too had terminated a Rs 470-crore contract with a Chinese firm at that time.
Sources said the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) had also written to Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, urging him to disallow the bid for the 44 trains from the Chinese JV.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had flagged off the maiden run of a Vande Bharat train on the New Delhi-Varanasi route on February 15, 2019. The second such train service between New Delhi and Shri Mata Vaishnodevi Katra was flagged off by Home Minister Amit Shah on October 3, 2019.
Officials said going by the cost of manufacturing the first Train 18 or Vande Bharat Express, which was launched last year at an expense of Rs 100 crore, of which Rs 35 crore were for the propulsion system alone, the present tender for 44 such kits would be worth over Rs 1,500 crore.