ailway Minister Piyush Goyal
on Thursday said the proposed General Electric
(GE) diesel locomotive plant at Marhaura would be set up as planned.
The statement comes amid speculation that the Centre might exit the $2.6-billion project contract, awarded in November 2015, with the US giant as it seeks to promote electrification. GE
had said the cancellation of the deal would undermine the government’s Make in India initiative and put future foreign investment at risk.
Addressing a press conference in New Delhi, Goyal said: “The Marhaura factory is on track. No change is happening on that. Work on the site has started and the first loco is on its way to India.”
Goyal added he had a discussion with top executives of GE
to explore how the objectives of reducing pollution, bringing down overall cost and honouring agreements with the global conglomerate be met.
“So many options are on the table. We will continue to work on that,” Goyal said. Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha said, “It’s no rocket science to convert a diesel locomotive to an electric one.”
The plan to wind up the project was mooted in a review meeting on September 7, citing railway’s increased focus on electrification. The project was announced to supply diesel locomotives of 4,500 horsepower and 6,000 HP to the railways.
According to the contract, the Railways had 26 per cent stake in the project, while the foreign companies would have got the remaining 74 per cent stake. The Railways was also offering 226 acres for the project, touted as the largest in the 100-year history of GE
in India. The carrier has been planning to electrify more than 4,000 kms of track in 2018-19 and is also gearing up for complete electrification by 2020-21.
Goyal further added that he wanted to double rail services in the Mumbai suburban in the next two years. “We want to improve facilities and double services in Mumbai in the next two years. As part of that, we are starting 100 new services on Friday.” Currently, of the total network of 66,687 route kilo metres (RKM) of Indian Railways, only 30,012 RKM is electrified. According to the road map set by the railway board last year, the national carrier will electrify at least 22,400 RKM by 2020-21.