After five years since an initial contract was signed with French major Alstom, the largest foreign direct investment (FDI) in the railways is finally on track. The first locomotive out of Alstom’s Madhepura electric loco factory in Bihar started operations on Sunday. Locomotives from the flagship ‘Make in India’ project will be put to service on the Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor (EDFC). “These locomotives are high-powered ones that are designed only for dedicated freight corridors. Currently, parts of the EDFC are operational, and hence, this locomotive will be deployed there,” said an official close to the development. Alstom’s WAG12 electric locomotives are designed to run at a maximum speed of 120 km per hour while hauling 6,000 tonnes of weight. The locomotive was attached to a long-haul freight train comprising 118 wagons. ALSO READ: No consent needed from destination states to run Shramik Specials: Railways In 2015, the railways had signed a euro 3.5 billion deal, including for the supply of 800 electric double-section locomotives with 12,000 horse power, with Alstom. It still seen as the largest FDI in the railways sector so far.
The Madhepura facility is a joint venture between Alstom with 74 per cent stake and the railways with 26 per cent.On April 10, 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had flagged off the new locomotives from Alstom India’s Madhepura facility in Bihar. However, handing over of the locomotives for rail operations was delayed as it initially did not clear oscillation trials. ALSO READ: Lockdown impact: Railways likely to freeze hiring, cut allowances The WAG-12 locomotive variant called WAG-12B was approved by the railways later. According to the contract, the first five locomotives were to be imported while the remaining 795 was to be manufactured as part of the “Make in India” initiative. The company is expected to supply the first five locomotives in 2019, 35 in 2020, 60 in 2021 and 100 every year thereafter till the order is completed. Alstom is already working on several projects of the dedicated freight corridors. In 2015, Alstom won an order worth euro 200 million from the railways for electrification, signalling and telecommunication systems for a 343 km stretch of the Eastern portion of the dedicated freight corridor from Khurja to Bhaupur. ALSO READ: Coronavirus LIVE: 200 non-AC trains to run daily from June 1, says Goyal As a part of the contract, Alstom will also build the sub-stations and provide the control centre. The control centre, situated in Allahabad, is one of the largest operations control centres in the world. The dedicated freight corridor is designed not just to enable safer and timely movement of freight across the country but also to reduce traffic on the corridor for passenger trains. According to Alstom, the technological solutions offered by the company will help the railways regain lost market share for freight transport and also provide additional capacity.