Hindalco Industries Ltd. the world’s largest aluminium rolling and recycling company, has signed a technology partnership with Italy-based Metra SpA renowned for its expertise in producing structured and value-added aluminium extrusions. The partnership aims to enable the production of large-size aluminium extrusion and fabrication technology for building high-speed aluminium rail coaches in India, underscoring Hindalco’s flagbearer role in upholding the Indian Government’s vision to foster superior domestic manufacturing capabilities.
Combining Hindalco’s vast experience in aluminium manufacturing and Metra’s cutting-edge knowhow in aluminium extrusion, machining and welding, the collaboration marks a pivotal move to bring world class technology – currently limited to Europe, China, Japan and a few other countries – to India. The tie-up provides Hindalco the launching pad to drive the ambitious upgradation programme of Indian Railways that runs the world’s largest rail network.
“We are pleased to join forces with Metra to introduce a new era of aluminium extrusions for passenger trains in India,” said Satish Pai, Managing Director of Hindalco Industries. “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 undoubtedly enhance the efficiency, durability and sustainable performance of these trains and set new benchmarks for the Indian rail industry.”
In the railway sector, extruded aluminium plays a leading role, as it combines the reduction of weight and mechanical strength. Metra, a 60-year veteran in making aluminium extrusions for the transport sector, specialises in the fabrication and machining of railway extrusions, giving the Italian company additional capabilities to design and supply high-end sub-assemblies for the railways.
“Collaborating with Hindalco Industries presents an exciting opportunity to showcase the capabilities of our aluminium extrusion technology on a global stage,” Enrico Zampedri, CEO of Metra SpA, stated enthusiastically. “Together, we are poised to redefine aluminium extrusions for high-speed train manufacturing in India, creating a fusion of strong Italian expertise in this field and Indian market knowledge.”
Indian Railways is in the midst of a dynamic makeover in basic infrastructure such as rail lines and stations as well as the introduction of high-speed air-conditioned carriages. The quintessentially world class Vande Bharat trains being rolled out to critical acclaim for top-end comfort and faster travel are an indicator to the future of rail transport in India. The gleaming, aerodynamic train, designed to run at more than 200 km per hour, will be made possible by the use of aluminium.
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.
Toughened high-grade aluminium alloy has emerged as the metal of choice the world over in the manufacture of 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 India’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 tonnes 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 foodgrains.