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Diesel locomotive project with General Electric on track, says Piyush Goyal

Minister Piyush Goyal said the government’s focus is on electrification of the Indian railway network but clarified that it won’t jeopardise the contract with General Electric to supply and maintain diesel locomotives for Bihar’s Marhoura project.

india Updated: Sep 28, 2017 17:00 IST
Srinand Jha and P Suchetana Ray
Srinand Jha and P Suchetana Ray
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
General Electric,GE,Piyush Goyal
Railway minister Piyush Goyal with MoS Manoj Sinha at a press conference in New Delhi on Thursday. (PTI Photo)

Railway minister Piyush Goyal on Thursday ruled out any possibility of the government scrapping a contract with US giant, General Electric (GE) , to supply and maintain 1,000 diesel locomotives.

The first batch of locomotives from GE are expected to arrive in India in October, he said, dismissing reports which speculated the government would have to pay damages to the American conglomerate if the contract is terminated.

“The Marhoura project is on track...I have had fruitful discussions with the South Asia and India head of GE,” Goyal said at a press conference on Thursday.

He added that the government’s focus is on electrification of the Indian railway network but clarified that these plans will not jeopardise the contract with GE.

The decision to push for electrification comes from the need to save money urgently needed for modernising the world’s fourth largest rail network.

Currently, India’s manufacturing capability of electrical locomotives is only 200 a year by the Railways. Another plant built by Alstom at Madhepura will supply another 80 per year.

Sources said for the electrification plans the government would need around 4500 electric locos, fueling speculation that this would make GE’s diesel locomotives redundant. The America major does not produce electric locomotives.

Goyal, who took over as railway minister recently, keen on extensive use of electric locomotives, while the existing fleet of 5500 diesel locomotives will serve as a backup.

“I am very keen that we should electrify the entire railway network. My mission is 100% electrification. Electricity is a domestic and self-sufficient resource whereas we have to import diesel. Railways is investing Rs 16,000 crore every year in diesel consumption. So, I will save Rs 8,000-10,000 crore,” Goyal had said earlier.

GE is developing a diesel locomotive factory at Marhoura in Bihar and a maintenance shed in Uttar Pradesh. As per the project plan, the factory will provide India with 1000 locomotives over the next decade at the rate of 100 engines per year.

The initial lot of 100 locos will be bought as outright purchase, while the remaining numbers will be manufactured in India on a Transfer of Technology basis.

First Published: Sep 28, 2017 14:52 IST