Make in India moves a step closer to greener railways

Make in India moves a step closer to greener railways
Make in India moves a step closer to greener railways

Interview

Ling Fang, Senior Vice-President - Asia-Pacific of Alstom, who have recently delivered its first electric locomotive to India, discusses the first 'Made in India' electric locomotive, and how Alstom is helping Indian Railways to become world's first 100 per cent green rail system.

Can you throw some light on Alstom's first electric locomotive How is the new electric locomotive going to benefit Indian Railways?

Alstom's Prima T8 (also known as WAG12) will be India's fastest and safest electric locomotives with 12000 HP, capable to haul ~ 6000 tonnes at a top speed of 120 kmph. Built by Alstom at our manufacturing facility in Madhepura in Bihar, these locomotives will be deployed for operations on the Dedicated Freight Corridors (DFCs). These e-locos will increase the average speed of freight trains in India by at least 20-25 kmph. They are equipped with Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistors (IGBT) based propulsion technology and will, therefore, lead to considerable savings in energy consumption due to the use of regenerative braking system.

Alstom has successfully designed Prima T8 e-locos under 'Make in India' initiative. Would you like to share your experience with this project?

Prima WAG12 e-locos are built as part of the country's largest Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) by Indian Railways, which was signed by the Ministry of Railways and Alstom in 2015. 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 11 years.

The joint venture between Alstom and Indian Railways 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. Almost 90 per cent of the components used to manufacture these locomotives are being sourced from India. Designed at Alstom's Engineering Centre in Bengaluru, the e-Locos are being built in one of India's largest integrated greenfield manufacturing facilities at Madhepura in Bihar. Spread across 250 acres, with a production capacity of 120 locomotives per annum, the Madhepura industrial site is built to international standards of safety and quality and will create more than 10,000 direct and indirect jobs in the country (primarily in the states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra). Globally, Alstom is associated with almost every prominent railway organisation. Partnering with Indian Railways, one of the largest railway entities in the world, is a matter of pride for us. The joint venture combines innovation with responsibility and together we are committed to deliver safe, reliable, and efficient solutions. We are excited to be part of this revolutionary journey of Indian Railways. It is a proud moment for all of us at Alstom as the country's fastest and the most powerful electric locomotive built by us is being inducted into the Indian Railways' freight service.

How many units of Prima T8 are you planning to manufacture for the Indian Railways?

We will be manufacturing a total of 800 double-section locomotives for Indian Railways.

What is new in the IGBT propulsion technology and has this been deployed in any other Indian rail segment?

IGBT propulsion is an innovative technology which contributes significantly towards reducing the operational cost of the locomotive by lowering its electricity consumption by using regenerative braking system. The technology is also helpful towards making the acceleration process more efficient by reducing the heat generation and traction noise. At the same, IGBT contributes significantly to the sustainability goals of Indian Railways towards making the rails greener and cleaner. Indian Railways has already using this technology for its trains.

Alstom has been part of India's mobility for over five decades. Where does Alstom feature in Indian Railways modernisation?

Alstom has established a strong presence in India and is proud to be part of Indian Railway's modernisation efforts. The projects Alstom is currently working on play a very crucial role in transforming Indian Railways and moving a step closer to the goal of Green Railways and subsequently reducing the carbon footprint. Other than the electric locomotive project, we are also executing Electrification, Signalling and telecommunications system for over 343 km along the Eastern phase of the ambitious Dedicated Freight Corridor which is a significant step in transforming the freight services in the country. As part of the contract, Alstom is building the sub-stations and providing the control centre. The control centre situated at Allahabad is World's second largest Operations Control Centre for the entire route length of the Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor. The Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) will not just enable safer and timely movement of freight across the country but will also reduce the traffic on the corridor for passenger trains. The technological solutions offered by Alstom will help Indian Railways regain lost market share for freight transport and will also provide additional capacity. With the sustainable yet innovative products and services that Alstom offers, we wish to be a preferred partner for the Indian Railways and realise their dream of being world's first 100 per cent green rail system.

What is the current market size in India for electric locomotives and what is Alstom's share?

As of March 2020, there were 6200 diesel locomotives and 6800 electric locomotives in India. Current production capacity is approximately 800 electric locomotives annually. However existing Indian Railways e-locos are all with maximum 6000HP capacity and very recently 9000 HP has been introduced. We have just started deliveries of our locomotives under this contract and are notably the only localised multinational currently supplying e-locos to Indian Railways. The 12000 HP locos being supplied by Alstom are the most advanced locos to be added to the Indian Railways fleet. The rest are being produced by them indigenously. About 100 of our high-powered locos will be inducted into the Indian Railways fleet annually moving forward.

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