Sep 11, 2016

Railways stalls Talgo trial info under RTI



Claims exemption under Section 8 (d) of the RTI Act pertaining to information related to trade secrets and intellectual property rights

Mumbai: The railways and its various zones, especially Western Railway, might have gone on a PR overdrive at the trials of the Spanish-built Talgo train, but it refused to share details of the trial under a Right to Information plea filed by Essel Group’s DNA.The Railway Board, in its RTI reply, said the trials of Talgo were satisfactory but stalled the details of these trials by claiming exemption under Section 8 (d) of the RTI Act. Section 8 (d) pertains to information related to trade secrets and intellectual property rights and the RTI exempts the disclosure of these facets as it could harm the competitive position of a third party, in this case Talgo.

However, the railways’ reply on some other questions go a long way in dispelling some myths of the Talgo trials. After all the Talgo trial is something the railway has been milking as one of its biggest achievements since the National Democratic Alliance came to power in May 2014. Essel Group gave a lowdown on the Talgo trial saga:

No Make in India as of now:

Despite the government’s avowed stance on Make in India and the grand plans to make the country a manufacturing hub, the Talgo trial does not have any Make in India angle as of now. In a reply to DNA’s query on whether the Railways has got an assurance from Talgo that it will construct coaches in India as part of ‘Make in India’ programme of the Union government, the railways replied that ‘no such assurance has been given by Talgo to the Ministry of Railways’.

Who is bearing the cost of the trials:

Contrary to popular public perception, the trials are being paid for by the railways and not Talgo. The railways has so far spent Rs 2.56 crores on carrying out the trials. The only cost Talgo has paid for is to the bring the rake from Spain to Izzatnagar workshop of North-Eastern Railway, the latter being the start point of the trial. The railway ministry has replied that so far Phase 1 and 2 of safety, stability and riding assessment trials on Bareilly-Moradabad-Saharanpur and Mathura-Palwal have been completed. Three trial runs between Mumbai and Delhi has also been completed.

No agreement between Railways and Talgo on testing:

Ironically in its reply to DNA’s RTI, the railways has said that there is no agreement that has been signed between the railways and Talgo for testing the latter’s rake in India. It opens up a debate on how the idea for Talgo trials started at the railways. After all Talgo, as well as some other Spanish train firms, signed an agreement with the ministry of railways way back in November 2012, under the erstwhile United Progressive Alliance (UPA) but there was not much movement on it. However in a letter dated September 3, 2015 the railways asked the Research Design Standards Organsation (RDSO) to examine Talgo’s proposal to conduct on-field trials of the latter’s rake.

Is there any assured purchase deal:

The railways replied in the negative to a query on whether Talgo has been assured of a minimum quantity of purchase as part of any agreement to test the Talgo rake in India.

The Talgo Mumbai-Delhi trial report:

Trial Claimed Time Completed time Speed Unusual Occurrence Time Stoppage
First (Aug1) 12h, 47min 15h, 41min 106.52kmph Over 3 hours 30mins
Second (Aug 5) 12h, 53min 12h, 36min 130kmph 18 minutes 26mins
Third (Aug 9) 12h, 02min 12h, 07min 140kmph 12 minutes 20mins
(The trial report is not part of the RTI and is a compilation from various railway press statements)