The deal between global giant General Electric and the railways for the supply of 1,000 diesel locomotives to the latter is now on track.
This is despite the national transporter’s push for 100 per cent electrification. The US major has already handed over 50 locomotives to the railways in 2018, marking a major breakthrough in the deal that was facing some bumps last year.
GE was supposed to supply 1,000 fuel-efficient “evolution series locomotives” in 11 years, based on a $2.5 billion contract signed with the railways way back in 2015. However, in 2017 the move by the railways to go for complete electrification had raised concerns with the company coming out in public against the railways move. It had cautioned the government that it will incur “substantial costs” and hurt “Make in India”, if the railways goes back on the contract. The deal also includes setting up a locomotives factory in Marhowra, Bihar.
In a statement on Wednesday, Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Ltd (APSEZ), too, said it successfully concluded the import and dispatch of 50 General Electric (GE) transportation locomotives from the Mundra port for the railways “with full customer satisfaction and ‘zero’ incident. The Adani group termed it as a first-of-its-kind in Indian shopping and logistics, as all 50 locomotives were manufactured by GE Electromotive division in the United States and imported to Mundra port.
“The railways already accepted majority (over 40) of the imported ones,” confirmed a person close to the development. The first GE locomotive was imported to Mundra and successfully handled by Adani Port in October 2017. The final locomotive was handed over to the railways at the Roza loco shed (UP) on November 23. “The commissioning of the locomotives was completed in the period of October 2017 to November 2018, which is a record for the logistics and ports sector,” a statement by Adani said.
In August, railways minister Piyush Goyal had said that with 100 per cent electrification, the diesel locomotives that General Electric (GE) will come out with will be used in border areas as a backup. Earlier this year, the GE project had also faced rough weather from the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG). In a report, CAG stated that the plan to come up with a diesel locomotive unit in Marhowra was not “in sync with the overall strategic vision of the railways”. It further stated that it will be a huge liability of Rs 171.26 billion for the railways.
Out of the total track length of the railways, around 29,000 route kms is already electrified and construction in 20,000 route kms is going on. With complete electrification on cards, the railways has already come out with a master plan to convert its entire fleet of about 5,500 diesel locomotives into electric ones at less than half the cost of refurbishment of the diesel engines. The indigenous technology to convert diesel locomotives to electric during refurbishment will cost the railways Rs 20 million, compared to Rs 50 million for refurbishment of diesel engines now.