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Railways may step up wheel imports as local supplies slip, Infra News, ET Infra

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National transporter Indian Railways may have to rely more on imported wheels, largely from Chinese companies, as domestic supplies from Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) and Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited (RINL) have been unable to keep pace with the growing demand.

While the supply of wheels from Indian Railway’s own production units met commitments, supply from other public sector undertaking sources needed a lift said officials aware of the development.

“Availability from SAIL was also not up to mark due to capital maintenance schedule,” a senior government official said.

This was significant as the national transporter must resort to importing largely from China, if domestic availability falters he said.

“They were advised to expedite the supply of wheels, which are being made,” he told ET.

Issues with wheel supplies also impact output from production units of the Indian Railways and hamper repairs.

To address this demand, RINL had set up a forged wheel plant in Raebareli, Uttar Pradesh. “Supply of Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) wheels from RINL is yet to stabilise. They have been urged to improve production as these wheels are in short supply in almost every Zonal Railways and Production Unit,” the official said, while adding that around 8,000 such wheels have already been imported and another 9,000 are expected to land in a few days.

SAIL expects improved supply
SAIL said there was a scheduled capital repair in the Wheel and Axle Plant from August 28, 2023 to September 25, 2023 and the Railway Board was duly informed about it on July 20, 2023. “Despite the planned capital repair for almost a month, SAIL has been able to supply 2,849 wheels to Railways during September 2023 compared to 3,720 supplied in September 2022,” the company said.

Considering the planned overhaul, SAIL was given a target to supply 14,934 wheels to the Indian Railways in the July-September quarter of FY24, down from 15,049 in the same months of FY23.

It is estimated that SAIL supplied 8,888 wheels to the Indian Railways for the second quarter of FY24. SAIL had met over 70% of its supply commitment in the Q1 of the fiscal by supplying 9,597 wheels, against a demand of 13,035.

On meeting shortfall, SAIL said the likely production in the remaining months of the current financial year is expected to be higher than the first half of FY24 as there is no capital repair scheduled.

  • Published On Oct 5, 2023 at 07:56 AM IST

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