The Railways will roll out a high-power electric locomotive early next year which will be used to haul freight trains at twice the existing speed. The public transporter is looking to manufacture 800 such train engines over the next 11 years in a joint venture with French giant Alstom, at the Madhepura Locomotive Factory in Bihar. This is the first major FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) project in the rail sector, said a senior Railway Ministry official.
The first such locomotive, estimated to cost about Rs 30 crore, will be assembled with components brought in from Alstom’s factories in France and will have its trial run by February next year. The 12,000 HP (horsepower) locomotives will help in speeding up movement of goods by increasing the average speed of freight trains from 25 kmph to 50 kmph. The Railways is currently using 6,000 HP locomotives for freight services.
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The increase in speed would also result in improving line capacity in the rail network, the official said. As per schedule, 35 locomotives would be rolled out from the factory by 2020, 60 in 2021, followed by 100 every year till the target of 800 is completed. The Railways had awarded the Rs 20,000 crore project to Alstom in November 2015 after the commissioning of the factory in Bihar. The FDI component in the Madhepura project is about Rs 1,200 crore.
A total of five locomotives will be assembled at the factory by 2019, and rest will be manufactured as per the ‘Make in India’ initiative. “The project is running on course and we are looking forward to delivering the first locomotive from our new factory in Madhepura early next year,” said Alstom India Managing Director Bharat Salhotra. The Madhepura locomotive factory is coming up on 250 acres of land in Bihar. Besides the plant, a township will also be built for its employees.