The Indian rail composites market is forecasted to grow at an impressive rate over the next five years to reach an estimated US$ 122.3 million in 2023. The Indian rail industry has undergone a remarkable transition over a period of time with regards to the adoption of composite materials in various applications. The rail industry is one of the largest consumers of composite materials in India and has efficaciously witnessed a continuous increase in the penetration of composites over the last ten years. The penetration of composites would not cede here and is likely to increase further with the development of new composite applications as well as to address changing customer demands with evolving trends, rapid transformations in technologies, and intense market competition. This will correspond to an attractive growth opportunity for both existing as well as new players.
However, the Indian rail industry currently lacks the presence of global composite part molders that have the capability to fabricate a large number of composite parts using advanced manufacturing processes. There is an immense requirement of such players that bring good composite technological capability in India and augment the overall composite capabilities for the Indian rail industry. Another restraint of the market is a relatively low awareness of the rail industry’s personnel about the benefits of composite materials over their rivals.
The burgeoning growth of the Indian rail composites market is primarily driven by an organic growth of the Indian rail industry. The Indian Ministry of Railways has been increasing investments in order to expand the existing rail network to support the rising passenger traffic. The government is also raising the production capacities of rail coaches to run additional trains on existing rail networks or on new networks. For instance; Integral Coach Factory (ICF) Chennai is likely to manufacture approximately 15,000 rail coaches in the next five years. At the same time, the government is also inaugurating the new rail coach plants in order to meet the incessantly rising demand.
Similar efforts can also be recorded in the locomotive productions as well. Major Indian locomotive houses, such as Chittaranjan Locomotive Works, West Bengal, have registered an overall increase in the locomotive production over the past five years and are likely to maintain this momentum over the next five years as well.
Metro railcars are the new growth engines of the Indian rail industry. Highly congested tier-II cities of India demand a greater means of mass transportation that can efficiently resolve this challenge. Almost all the major cities have either ongoing or proposed plan for setting up metro rails. Expansion on existing metro rail projects in Delhi, Bengaluru, and Kolkata; and ongoing/upcoming metro rail projects in Nagpur, Kochi, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Chennai, Hyderabad, and Navi Mumbai are some of the prominent examples of a long list, which are likely to create a huge demand for metro railcars in the foreseeable future. Composites are the perennial choice of materials for fabricating structural-to-semi-structural applications of metro railcars, such as front-end module and interior panels.
Additionally, the handsome growth of the Indian rail industry is catching the interest of many global players. Most of the major global players are targeting India as their new revenue pocket and are eagerly eyeing various upcoming rail projects in India. Some of them have already entered the Indian market by setting up their manufacturing plants in different parts of India. These players are not only targeting the huge potential of the growing Indian rail industry but also targeting export in neighboring countries. For instance; Bombardier and Alstom, the two global metro railcar giants, have set up their plants in India to capture the huge local potential as well as to target neighboring countries. A similar trend is also noticed in the locomotive market as well.
The second major factor driving the demand for composites is an incessant increase in its penetration. Composite materials are one of the most versatile materials that offer significant advantages as compared to their rivals including metals. Lightweight, high-strength-to-weight ratio and excellent corrosion and fatigue resistance are merely few benefits among many that composite materials bring to the table. There has been an incessant shift from traditional heavyweight parts to lightweight composite parts.
Thirdly, the Indian Ministry of Railways has a plan to retrofit around 40,000 old rail coaches in the next five-and-a-half-years. Composites not only offer excellent mechanical and chemical properties but also augment overall aesthetics of rail coaches. Composites may play a pivotal role in modernizing these large old fleets.
Insights based on rail type:-
The Indian rail composites market is segmented based on the rail type as Rail Coaches, Locomotives, and Metro Rails. The rail coaches segment currently dominates the market and is likely to maintain its growth momentum over the next five years as well, driven by increasing production of rail coaches, advancement in the rail coach design, upcoming rail coach factories in India, and increasing penetration of composites in structural to semi-structural applications. Metro railcars, another promising segment, is likely to grow at the highest rate in the market during the forecast period, driven by large ongoing and upcoming metro rail projects in different parts of India including Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kochi, Lucknow, and Nagpur coupled with a greater composites penetration per railcar.
Insights based on composite type:-
Based on the composite type, The Indian rail composites market is segmented into Polyester Composites, Phenolic Composites, and Others. Polyester composite is expected to remain the choice of composites in the market during the forecast period, driven by its low-cost advantage and good performance. In India, all the major composite applications, such as front-end modules, toilet modules, and interior panels, are preferably fabricated with glass fibers impregnated with polyester resins. Phenolic composite is also likely to witness a healthy growth during the same period.
Insights based on process type:-
Based on the process type, the Indian rail composites market is segmented into Resin Infusion, Open Mold, Filament Winding, and Others. Resin infusion and open mold are likely to remain the most preferred manufacturing processes in the Indian rail composites market during the forecast period, driven by their low equipment cost, less complexity in operation, and part performance matching the current market requirements.
Insights based on region:-
Based on the regions, the Indian rail composites market is further segmented into North India, South India, East India, and West India. South India and North India are the manufacturing capitals of the Indian rail industry with the presence of major rolling stock manufacturers. Both regions are likely to remain dominant over the next five years. West India currently generates an overall low demand for composite parts but is likely to grow maximum among all regions over the next five years.
The Indian rail composites market is fiercely competitive with the presence of few local players. The overall market is highly price-competitive not only among suppliers but also among competing materials. This gives an edge to the OEMs to easily switch from one player to another. It is anticipated that the excellent growth of the market may attract the global players to enter the Indian market to capture a larger chunk of the market in the coming years. Furthermore, it is also expected that the existing players may develop better technological capabilities in coming time to remain competitive in the long run.
The supply chain of this market comprises of raw material suppliers, composite part fabricators, rolling stock manufacturers, and the government. The major raw material suppliers are Owens Corning India, Goa Glass Fibre Ltd. Reichhold India Private Ltd. , Satyen Polymers Pvt. Ltd. , and Atul Pvt. Ltd. , whereas the major composite part fabricators for the Indian rail industry are Arham Composites, Kineco Private Limited, Tech-Force Composites Pvt. Ltd. , Permalli Wallace, and HCL India. The key rolling stock manufacturers are RCF Kapurthala, ICF Chennai, Chittaranjan Locomotive Works, Diesel Locomotive Works, Alstom Transport India Ltd. , Bombardier Transportation India Private Ltd. , and GE Transportation.
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