Thiruvananthapuram: The transport department has decided to rope in major vehicle manufacturers such as Ashok Leyland, Tata, Volvo and Eicher to modernise the workshops of the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC).
The KSRTC has sought assistance for setting up engine reconditioning plants of these companies. Ashok Leyland would be allotted facilities at the KSRTC workshop at Edappal, Tata at Thiruvananthapuram, Volvo and Eicher at Aluva.
A depot, with buses plying a distance of 10,000km a day, should have all vehicle parts, including engine, gearbox and clutch, as per the recommendation of the Susheel Khanna report. The objective is to get the bus back on the road within 8 hours, irrespective of which part needs repair. Around 70-75 buses are taken to the workshop every month due to engine failure. And it takes up to 4 months for these to be repaired. In such a scenario, the assistance of the bus-manufacturing companies are being sought.
During the first phase, the KSRTC would have to shell out the money for the equipment required for the companies to set up the engine reconditioning plants. The company would hire skilled staff, who would in turn provide training for the employees in the mechanical wing of the KSRTC.
If all parts, including engine, have to be stocked up, as recommended by Susheel Khanna, it would cost up to Rs 84 crore. Every year, around Rs 30 crore is spent for renovating workshops. If more cash can be coughed up along with this amount, the KSRTC estimates that facilities for the vehicle-manufacturers' plants can be set up.
Not bus, only engine
Kerala Transport Minister Antony Raju and a team of officials visited the hydrogen-CNG bus plant of Ashok Leyland at Hosur in Karnataka.
Instead of purchasing the bus, the Minister-led team held talks with Ashok Leyland over a proposal to replace diesel engines with CNG engines and gearboxes. The 6-cylinder engine would cost Rs 12-15 lakh. As one CNG bus would cost Rs 50-55 lakh, the KSRTC estimates that it would be profitable to replace the engine instead of purchasing the bus. The approval of the Automotive Research Association of India would be sought for replacing the engine.
In the budget, the government had announced that 3,000 diesel buses would be converted to CNG/LNG engines. It is proposed to convert 1,500 engines to CNG.