Aug 11, 2016

BEML Palghat Plant derailed by lack of rail connectivity to Kanjikode

TRAIN ON A TRAILER: A passenger coach shell manufactured by BEML Limited, Palakkad Plant.

Palghat: Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML) unit here – allotted to the region during senior Congress leader A K Antony’s tenure as Union Defence Minister – is now engaged in building undercarriages for Delhi Metro Rail Corporation(DMRC).

However, lack of rail connectivity to Kanjikode railway station means that the undercarriages have to be transported all the way to BEML’s Bengaluru unit in trailers. And the remaining components are manufactured and assembled there to meet the DMRC requirements.
According to a BEML official, if there were rail connectivity, the transportation costs could be avoided. More importantly, the metro coaches as a whole could be built here, he pointed out.

“ The detailed project report (DPO) for a railway overbridge (ROB) was prepared by RITES and it was submitted to the Railway Board for its approval. The Board has approved the plan and its nod for the DPO is awaited. Kinfra, which is the nodal agency, has already paid for the feasibility study.”

“The cost of the railway overbridge across the National Highway was `40 crore initially but it would have escalated now. Kinfra will have to acquire around 25 acre, part of which is government land, for laying the 6 km-long road from the railway station to the factory. The state government has already sanctioned the first instalment of Rs.25 crore for land acquisition which will begin once the DPO gets the nod,” said K Sudhakaran, Kinfra general manager, adding, a delegation of Kerala MPs had raised the issue at a meeting with Railways.

It was also pointed out that the piecemeal approach – the undercarriages for 68 coaches along with the other components are manufactured here with the remaining work being undertaken in Bengaluru – affected its viability.

Since March, BEML unit here has been manufacturing metro coaches by tying up with Hyundai Rotem, the technological partner. BEML officials said the new six-coach train has advanced featues like better traction and acceleration. As per DMRC requirements, these trains can be run even without the help of a loco-pilot. Nonetheless, there will be a loco-pilot for handling emergency situations in the first few years after which the trains will run on the UTO (Unattended Train Operation) mode.

Incidentally, despite its geographical proximity, BEML Palakkad, had been unable to bag the contract for Kochi Metro Rail coaches after it was outbid by French engineering giant Alstom, which has its manufacturing hub at Sri City in Andhra Pradesh.The BEML Palakkad unit which employs around 400 people was established in 2010 to manufacture Tatra trucks for the Ministry of Defence and custom built coaches for Railways. While the manufacture of Tatra trucks was suspended following the scam, Railways phased out the traditional coaches, drying up orders for the unit.