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Electric conversion of GE diesel locomotive project looks difficult

The Marhowra project alone was set to bring in an investment of Rs 2,052 crore

Shine Jacob  |  New Delhi 

GE goes local; invests $200 million in a tiny impoverished village in Bihar
Photo: Reuters

There seems no end to the woes of the Marhowra locomotive project which was supposed to be built by (GE). A day after reports came out that the may give the multinational major an option to manufacture electric locomotives as is not keen on procuring engines, a senior official said the possibility of giving such an offer is unlikely.

“We are aiming at almost 100 per cent electrification in the next three to four years from the existing level of around 42 per cent. Hence, we are not keen on the plant. But as it was allotted through a competitive bidding process and the prices of and electric locomotives are completely different, it is highly unlikely that this option may work out,” said an official close to the development. However, the idea was discussed in a meeting between Minister and officials at Rail Bhavan on Thursday. But the exit clause from the project may also cost the more.

The plan to wind up the project was mooted in a review meeting of the on September 7, after Goyal took charge of the ministry. The project was part of the Rs 40,000-crore contract that awarded to and Alstom to set up and electric locomotive factories at Marhowra and Madhepura, respectively, in November 2015. “Both the contracts were awarded at different rates. Hence, conversion of plant to electric may be a complicated process,” he added.

The Marhowra project alone was set to bring in an investment of Rs 2,052 crore. It was expected to manufacture at least 1,000 locomotives over a period of 10 years. “Indian has embarked on a massive electrification exercise for its traction needs with a view to improve the efficiency and mobility of its network and substantially reducing the energy bill. Regarding Marhowra locomotive factory, all aspects of the matter are being examined right now, taking into account the need and various contractual and legal obligations,” said another official.

Though the project was conceptualised by Lalu Prasad during his tenure as the minister in 2007, it took eight years for the contracts to be awarded. The project was planned for 4,500 horsepower and 6,000hp locomotives. was supposed to have 26 per cent stake in the project and would have provided land, while the foreign would have got the remaining 74 per cent stake. was also offering 200 acres of land for the project, which was touted as the largest in the 100-year history of in India.

First Published: Sat, September 23 2017. 01:09 IST