Metro Railway, Kolkata, in 2015, had placed orders with CRRC in Dalian, China, for 14 eight-coach rakes to augment its ageing fleet. The first of these was shipped to Kolkata in March 2019. This was considered a prototype that was to undergo extensive trials in Kolkata to weed out glitches.
For this, a facility was also set up in the city by Toshiba of Japan that built several electrical components for these rakes. Before the lockdown, a number of technicians from CRRC were also in China to monitor the trials and report back to the company about necessary alterations that the remaining 13 rakes may need.
Once this would have been settled, CRRC was to ship one rake per month to Kolkata. “We have still not received any clear instructions from the Railway Board on how to proceed. There are some components for the ongoing Noapara-Dakshineswar project that Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd (RVNL) needs to bring in from China. Had the lockdown not occurred, these components, along with those from other countries, would have arrived by now. It is unclear when things will return to normal,” an official said.
Trials for the Dalian prototype had begun before March 24 when the lockdown started. Technicians had pointed out some problems with the rake.
For now though, Metro is concentrating on the rakes supplied by Integral Coach Factory (ICF), Chennai. Metro Railway had also placed an order for 14 rakes from ICF. These are known as the Medha rakes after the company that developed their propulsion systems. According to another official, 10 of these rakes have already been sent to Kolkata.
“Full fleged trials for these rakes are continuing. We hope to have eight of them operational by July”, an official said.