NEW DELHI: India is taking its ‘neutrality’ in the Russia-Ukraine conflict quite seriously, it seems. While Russian oil is fuelling cars and other vehicles running on Indian roads, trains in the country will be running on Ukrainian wheels.
The Indian Railways is rushing to airlift train wheels from a Ukrainian factory before the deadline for conducting the trials of the advanced version of the express train in the next few months. Railway sources said soon after the Russian invasion, the Ukrainian factory managed to move a consignment of nearly 128 wheels — being manufactured for Vande Bharat trains — to neighbouring Romania by road. The Railway Ministry, in coordination with the Ministry of External Affairs, is working to airlift all the 128 rail wheels from Romania by the first week of the next month.
“The supply of these wheels was struck. The Ukrainian manufacturing unit has sent our consignment by road to Romania, where we are considering airlifting it soon,” said a senior railway official. The railways has announced operation of 75 Vande Bharat express trains on prominent routes by 2022. To meet the deadline, the railways has placed other import orders for the rail wheels with Czech Republic, Poland and the US, in addition to the Ukrainian factory, after considering the technical modalities for a Vande Bharat train.
The railways had placed the orders for 35,000 wheels worth $16 million with the Ukrainian firm, which is one of the 20 big manufacturers of train wheels in the world. Sources said the scheduled operation of 75 Vande Bharat trains would not be disturbed as the railway is working on an alternative plan to meet the deadline.