Hindalco Industries, the world's largest aluminium rolling and recycling company, on Tuesday said it has signed a technology partnership agreement with Italy-based Metra to manufacture high-speed aluminium rail coaches.
The Aditya Birla group company in a statement said the partnership is aimed at sharing extrusion and fabrication technology for building high-speed aluminium rail coaches.
For the last six decades, Metra has been known for its cutting-edge knowhow in aluminium extrusion, machining and welding, and the collaboration is a pivotal move to bring world-class technology currently limited to Europe, China, Japan and a few other countries to the domestic market.
"We are joining hands with Metra to introduce a new era of aluminium extrusions for passenger trains in the country," said Satish Pai, Managing Director of Hindalco.
"This is in line with our capability building for aluminium in commercial vehicles, freight wagons, electric vehicles and passenger train applications. Our combined expertise will enhance the efficiency, durability and sustainable performance of these trains and set new benchmarks for the domestic rail industry," he added.
In the railway sector, extruded aluminium plays a leading role, as it reduces weight of the coaches.
"Collaborating with Hindalco presents an exciting opportunity to showcase our capabilities for aluminium extrusion technology on a global stage, Enrico Zampedri, the CEO of Metra, said
The Railways is in the midst of a makeover in basic infrastructure such as rail lines and stations as well as the introduction of high-speed air-conditioned carriages.
To help make passenger coaches for the Vande Bharat trains, Hindalco plans to invest Rs 2,000 crore for the project and the technology alliance will provide the cutting-edge technology for this effort, Pai said.
Toughened high-grade aluminium alloy has emerged as the metal of choice the world over in manufacturing high-speed railway coaches, enabling aesthetic designs and greater speeds because of their lighter weights. Suburban metro systems and high-speed intercity and long-haul rail traffic in Europe, China and Japan use aluminium railcars.
While the upfront costs are marginally higher for aluminium railcars, the saving over the longer run including in rail infrastructure and carbon emissions, is significant. The use of aluminium significantly enhances energy efficiency thanks to reduced aerodynamic resistance, transmission loss and causes lower wear and tear to rolling stock.
Last October, Hindalco launched the country's first all-aluminium lightweight freight rake, which is not just enabling higher speeds and more payload per trip but will save over 14,500 tonne of CO2 over its lifetime.
The company plans to introduce three more designs of freight wagons in the coming months targeting specific commodities such as cement and foodgrain.
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