With over 12,000 locomotives of both electric and diesel types, 50,000 coaches and 2 lakh wagons, plenty of wheel-sets are needed to keep them rolling on Indian Railways’ 65,000-km network of steel rails. Tata Steel (earlier called Tisco) and Durgapur Steel Plant can meet less than half of Indian Railways’ needs for new rolling stock and replacements for worn out wheel-sets. As early as in 1960s, it was realised that indigenous manufacturing capacity had to be built to save precious foreign exchange. At that time, Infosys, TCS, Wipro and a host of other cyber warriors, which today earn the nation millions of dollars, were not even a blip on the horizon. After much deliberation, the Planning Commission sanctioned Rs 146 crore in 1978 setting the ball rolling to build the first-ever wheel and axle plant in Bangalore (now Bengaluru), which was inaugurated by Indira Gandhi in 1984.
A bold decision to go in for cast steel wheels as against the prevalent standard for forged ones was taken to benefit from the very high productivity it offered. In a far-sighted move, a state-of-the-art technology from the best in the field—Griffin Wheel Company of the US—was selected. This technology for cast steel wheels conformed to the Association of American Railroads’ specification M208, while the axles were to be made to AAR specification M101. Read More…
Credit By : The Financial Express
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