Bombardier: From rail to metro in India

Multinational company, Bombardier, has been closely involved in transforming India’s rail network since 1993. But the company, which invested in India for over 50 years, has been a long term partner of Indian Railways. Now, this company is not limited to Railways but is also involved with other mass transit systems. Jescilia Karayamparambil writes about the company’s activities…

As per market estimates for next five years,  Bombardier is expected to supply approximately 3,000 metro cars, 20 signalling lines, 5,000 electric multiple unit’s (EMU) with maintenance, 9 high speed lines, 20 semi-high speed lines. The company is pursuing various metro projects such as Delhi Metro, Bengaluru Metro Phase II, Mumbai Metro, Chennai Metro amongst others. The company is in discussions with ministries and local municipals, to offer light metro / monorails/ light rail vehicles for upcoming smart cities projects.

Railway connect 

India has the fourth largest rail network in the world and the company has been involved in modernising the rail transportation in India. The company completed serial deliveries for the supply of propulsion equipment to Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation (MRVC) for 72 twelve-car trains in 2017. “Our propulsion equipped trains operate on Mumbai suburban rail network which safely move around 7.8 million passengers a day,” says Harsh Mehta, Head of Communications, India and Regional Coordination, Asia Pacific. The company claims that with all the locomotives put to together, equipped with their propulsion technology, travel around 3,00,000 kms daily on Indian Railways network vast network of around 65,000 kms.

The company has been supporting Mumbai’s rail ecosystem since 2002. Mehta added, “We have installed and maintained the Traffic Management System (TMS) on Mumbai’s Western and Central lines. Currently, trains equipped with our propulsion are operating successfully in Mumbai’s Suburban Rail network and moving around 3.5 million passengers daily.”

The company is the first foreign multinational company to set up a wholly-owned railway vehicle manufacturing facility in India. The company has invested Rs 230 crore in a state-of-the-art railway vehicle manufacturing at Savli, Gujarat. Over the last two decades, the company has invested around USD 100 million in Indian manufacturing sites, people, engineering, local supplier network and proven technologies. Mehta stated, “Bombardier aims at investing in India with a long-term perspective in manufacturing facilities, local talent, developing local supplier base, new technologies as statutory in the projects which Bombardier is pursuing in the Indian market.”

The company has divided its vision for Indian Railways into long-term—focus on stabilising railways and making itself sustainable; and short-term—clear pending projects over introduction of new projects by Indian Railways.

Mass transit solutions 

The company takes pride in the fact that it is the first multinational company in India to have the capacity to manufacture product in India for India and export from India. The company has delivered 578 metro cars that were made in India to Delhi Metro. As per the Delhi Metro’s 2015 order, Bombardier is manufacturing additional 162 cars, over 334 bogies and propulsion from the Indian sites. Commenting about the new metro policy, Mehta said, “With focused approach on innovative financial models and private investment, the new metro policy will supplement domestic capital, technology, skills for accelerated growth. The new metro policy reinforces commitment to Public Private Partnership which supports both the Private Sector and Indian Rail operators.”

In April 2017, Bombardier Transportation has opened a new engineering centre in Hyderabad, India. This new facility also focuses on the development of metro and electrical multiple unit (EMU) product platforms and engineering design for transportation projects locally and globally.

Challenges in India

With an all-time high allocation of over Rs 50 lakh crore for infrastructure, the Indian government is giving infrastructure sector the needed attention. Yet there are a lot of challenges in infrastructure development like funding constraints; land acquisition issues; delays elated to identification and award of projects; and shortage of skilled manpower. Mehta added that the country’s poor infrastructure is the ‘biggest hurdle’ to government’s Make in India programme. The infrastructure deficit is costing up to 5 per cent of the GDP basis estimates and an improvement will boost export competitiveness

Indo–Canadian relationship

Prime Minister of Canada’s visit to India is a great platform to harness relationships between the Government of India and Canada. Both Prime Minister committed to increase trade between both countries and with 1.2 billion consumers, India presents tremendous opportunities for Canadian businesses of all sizes. “The bilateral trade between India and Canada is expected to grow very fast in the coming years and shall provide an excellent platform for both governments to work together more.” Bombardier in India has been collaborating with High Commission of Canada to India, Canadian provinces, Canadian business trade bodies demonstrating its commitment to enhance the relationship between both countries.

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