INDIAN Railways (IR) has issued a tender for the design and manufacture of 200 sleeper variants of the 160km/h Vande Bharat EMU, looking to award a contract worth up to Rs 260bn ($US 3.4bn).

The successful bidder will also be responsible for maintenance of the new fleet of 16-car sleeper EMUs over a period of 15 years.

IR has previously sourced traction equipment from abroad for Vande Bharat cars built in India, and tender documents state that the sleeper EMUs must be manufactured at the state-owned Integral Coach Factory (ICF) in Chennai and Marathwada Rail Coach Factory at Latur.

The successful bidder will be required to upgrade the plants at Chennai and Latur and will also be responsible for maintaining the new depots to service the sleeper EMUs and establishing a driver training centre equipped with motion-based simulators.

Manufacturing costs have been set at Rs 1.3bn. “Prices have apparently been calculated on the lower side,” said Mr S K Luthra, a former IR official, pointing to the additional responsibilities that IR is proposing to place on the bidder.

Tender documents provide for a period of 82 months between full contract closure and the start of deliveries, making it unlikely that the first sleeper EMUs will appear before 2029.

IR is planning to hold a pre-bid conference for interested parties on May 20. Bids for the contract are due to close on July 26.

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