Indian Railways operates the world’s fourth-largest network and is one of the world’s largest growing economies. And to fulfill the aspirations of new India, it requires freight and passengers to be transported at much higher speeds. Alstom is excited to be partnering with Indian Railways on some of the key projects by providing its revolutionary and innovative products and solutions, thus enabling IR to move towards being ‘Green Railways’. A few years ago, Indian Railways required modernization on many fronts. Growing network congestion, a legacy infrastructure that did not support high-speed trains, lack of advanced signalling systems, and maintenance, all these factors left them lagging, in comparison with its global peers. However, their topmost priority was to decongest the network.
Until recently, Indian Railways has been extremely independent and never had joint ventures for its large projects. Signing a partnership with Alstom in 2015 marked the beginning of a new era for Indian Railways. And for Alstom, it wouldn’t be wrong if we said that this project was ‘A first of its kind Make-in-India challenge’, that resulted in a technological breakthrough for the country. The contract worth €3.5 billion includes manufacturing of 800 double-section, 12000-horsepower electric locomotives for freight service and associated maintenance for a period of 13 years. Prima WAG 12B, the electric locomotives, will revolutionize freight logistics in the country. It will allow faster and safer movement of heavy freight trains, capable of hauling 6000 tonnes at a top speed of 120 km/h. Planned for deployment on Dedicated Freight Corridors (DFCs), they will double the average speed of freight trains in India.
Major progress has been made since Alstom was awarded the contract, which is the largest foreign direct investment (FDI) in the Indian railway sector. Post-certification from the Ministry of Railways and Commissioner of Railway Safety/RDSO in May 2020, the WAG 12B locomotives were inducted for commercial services. In October, these electric locomotives became the first fully electric freight locomotives to run at a maximum speed of 120 kmph in the country. Despite the challenges posed by Covid-19, Alstom has been able to successfully manufacture and deliver 100 units to Indian Railway by April 2021. The deployed e-Locos have already covered about 5 million kilometres across17 States & two Union Territories, transporting 1,232 million tonnes of commodities such as coal, cement, food grains, fertilizers, petrochemical products, minerals, and posts/ parcels. Starting this fiscal, 100 units of this high-powered e-Locos will be delivered for induction into the IR fleet every year.
As part of this contract, Alstom is also building two ultramodern maintenance depots which will use predictive technologies to ensure high availability of the e-locos and reduce maintenance cost. Equipped with modern features, these depots will have a substantial role in maintaining India’s most advanced freight locomotives at significantly lower costs. Work is underway for the construction of the maintenance depot in Nagpur, while the depot at Saharanpur is fully functional Saharanpur depot also has a ‘Training Centre’ equipped with a loco simulator and smart classrooms being used for skill development of railway employees. Over 500 loco pilots from Indian Railways have been trained so far. Going forward, the aim is to train 500 loco pilots every year
This Joint Venture between Alstom (74% equity) & Indian Railways (26% equity) is one of the strongest endorsements of Make-in-India for various reasons – a highly localised supplier base has been put in place for execution and technology transfer has added to building local engineering capabilities. More than 85% of the components used to manufacture these locomotives are being sourced from India. The project envisions to create more than 10,000 direct and indirect jobs in the country, primarily in the states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and Maharashtra.
Alstom is proud to be partnering in India’s growth story. Today, as we look back at an eventful five-year journey, it gives me immense pride to state that we have made progress across a spectrum of spheres – technological, infrastructural, and socioeconomic – alike. Aligning with the government’s ‘Make-in-India’ and ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ initiatives, Alstom continues to increase its efforts to locally design, engineer and produce trainsets and technologies.
Designed at Alstom’s Engineering Centre in Bengaluru and equipped with Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistors (IGBT) propulsion technology, the e-locos will also allow considerable savings in energy consumption thanks to the use of regenerative braking. The WAG 12B uses an eight-axle design that would enhance performance of a locomotive. The Prima T8 technology makes operation comfortable and flexible in extreme temperatures, ranging from −50 °C to 50 °C. With WAG 12B, Alstom introduces novel features into Indian freight trains, such as climate control systems, air conditioners, food preparation and storage facilities and toilets. These e-locos are also equipped with spacious cabins for pilots to work comfortably.
Madhepura, which was one of the most backward districts of the country, has now become home to one of India’s largest integrated greenfield manufacturing facilities. Spread across 250 acres, with a production capacity of 120 locomotives per annum, this industrial site is built to international standards of safety and quality. To support the local communities, Alstom is actively investing in the upliftment of the community across seven villages in and around Madhepura, covering education, healthcare, women empowerment, and skilling. More than 100,000 lives have been touched through Alstom’s initiatives in the region.
Globally, Alstom is associated with almost every prominent railway organisation and Indian Railways, is one of the largest Railway entities in the world. The joint venture combines innovation with responsibility and together Alstom is committed to delivering safe, reliable and efficient solutions.