Indian Railways set for big transformation with modern ‘world-class’ Make in India locomotives

Indian Railways said to the country’s lifeline, is at a crucial juncture and in the coming years is set to witness large scale transformation – be it new modern locomotives and upcoming dedicated freight corridors or the massive stations redevelopment programme and world-class train sets for passenger safety and comfort. From safety and punctuality to speed and competitive efficiency, Piyush Goyal-led Indian Railways is working on multiple projects that are expected to start showing results in the next few years. Locomotives form an important part of the way the Indian Railways network functions. Energy efficient locomotives that can achieve relatively higher speeds and throughput are crucial to India that is growing fast and hopes to retain the tag of world’s fastest growing major economy. “Locomotives are an important peg in the overall growth story of Indian Railways,” says Abhaya Agarwal, Partner Infrastructure & PPP Leader at EY India. “These world-class locomotives that Indian Railways is looking to induct will be able to haul greater tonnes of freight and will also allow for greater acceleration and deceleration at shorter distances. This will be a game-changer move for the sector as a whole,” Agarwal tells FE Online. What’s best about these locomotives is that they are all ‘Make in India’ projects.

Indian Railways creates history by converting diesel loco to electric locomotive

In Varanasi, which is PM Narendra Modi’s constituency, Indian Railways created a world record by converting a diesel loco into electric traction. Diesel Locomotive Works (DLW) converted one unit of a WAGC3-class diesel locomotive in a record time of 69 days. Rashmi Goyel, the first woman GM DLW tells FE Online that the project was completed by working day and night, burning the midnight oil.

The ‘Make in India’ electric locomotive is of 5,000 HP as compared to 2,600 HP of the original diesel locomotive. Another unit is being converted to eventually make a coupled locomotive that will yield 10,000 HP, Goyel tells FE Online.

Alstom’s 12,000 HP electric locomotives for freight movement

Alstom, which is manufacturing 12,000 HP locomotives at its new factory in Bihar’s Madhepura, recently handed over the new locomotive to Indian Railways. The WAG12-class ‘Make in India’ locomotive is part of an order for 800 fully electric locomotives that will eventually be used on the Dedicated Freight Corridors. The green environment-friendly locomotives can haul up to 6,000 tonnes freight and have IGBT (Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistors)-based propulsion technology.

The new high-powered locomotives that can attain speeds of up to 120 kmph will not only help Indian Railways transport goods at higher speeds but will also aim at reducing the carbon footprint. Alain Spohr, Managing Director, Alstom India & South Asia tells FE Online that the France major is hopeful of eventually exporting railway locomotives out of India.

GE’s diesel electric locomotives

As part of a $2.5 billion project, GE Transportation will supply 1,000 diesel electric locomotives to Indian Railways. While the initial batch of locomotives will be shipped from US, eventually all others will be made in India at the company’s plant in Bihar’s Marhowra. GE has already delivered two diesel electric locomotives of 4,500 HP to Indian Railways. Out of 1,000 locos, 700 would be of the 4,500 HP variety and the remaining 300 will be of 6,000 HP. The locomotives can attain speeds of up to 100 kmph and will be maintained at Gujarat’s Gandhidham and Uttar Pradesh’s Roza sheds. Nalin Jain, President – International business, GE Transportation tells FE Online that the “new locomotives have proven technology and will therefore provide a strong workhorse to Indian Railways for long haul freight operations and help with better revenue realization through increased availability and reliability.”

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