Indian Railway industry is currently working on first bullet-train project and has been asked to develop an alternative to the high-tech machinery required to construct the viaducts, that is, elevated structures at the required pace since they are only produced in China currently. This urge comes at a time when trade relations with China has been affected by the border tension in eastern Ladakh.
Transporter, Gantry and Full Spam Launcher machines which are the mega carrier and launcher machines are eminent in China’s large-scale connectivity projects. A vehicle which carries a full girder travels on an already launched girder to place the next girder under this technology. Its speed is almost seven times that of the girder launching mechanism which is commonly employed in India. While these are able to place one-and-a-half girders in a week, the Chinese machines enable two girders a day.
The cost of each machine is around Rs 70-80 crore and the bullet train project will require up to 30 such machines, Achal Khare, Managing Director of the National High-Speed Rail Corporation (NHSRL), said.
“If we are to build 237 km in four years, there is no other way except to use this technique. But these carrier-and-launcher machines are manufactured in China. So this is one of the challenges which we have posted to the industry, including L&T (which is building 325 km of a high-speed viaduct in Gujarat) and the academicians, that why can’t we develop them rather than importing them from China?” Khare mentioned in a meeting of the industry body.
“Procuring these machines was common earlier. I guess people here never needed to apply their minds to make them because they were available cheap in China. Now we are telling people to try and design them, let’s be self-reliant. It’s not like Indian engineers cannot make it,” Khare stated, adding that given the current “situation” and the government’s initiative of Aatmanirbhar Bharat, it was extremely unlikely that anyone would secure these machines from China. “I think people will try to develop these machines here, and that is good. How else will we become self-reliant?” he added.
“They are vehicles capable of carrying loads of 1000 tonnes-plus. Currently, girders are carried by road in little segments,” Khare noted adding that even Japan has not been able to design such machines even though they are helping India with the bullet-train project.