General Electric’s Diesel Locomotive Unit in Bihar not in line with IR’s Electric Train aim: CAG

NEW DELHI: The diesel locomotive manufacturing unit being built by General Electric in Bihar is not aligned with the plan of the Indian Railways to operate electric trains, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India has said.

Setting up of a new infrastructure for production of diesel locomotives and incurring a huge liability of Rs 17,126 crore is not in sync with the overall strategic vision of Railways,” the CAG said in its audit report on the railways for 2016-17.

The Indian Railways plans to shift to near-100% electrification of its broad gauge routes by 2021 and will operate freight trains on dedicated, electrified corridors.

“Even if railways does not go for 100% electrification, it is expected that most of the high-traffic routes would definitely be electrified and the need for diesel traction would remain only for low-traffic routes, for which high horsepower diesel locos are not likely to be used optimally,” the CAG observed.

The railways awarded the contract to manufacture 1,000 diesel locomotives over 10 years to GE in 2015. “Need for high-power diesel traction in Indian Railways is going to diminish in the years to come. The diesel locomotives procured under this agreement would have no scope for productive utilisation in the Indian Railway network in future,” the state auditor said.

The CAG report said an analysis showed that the diesel locomotives already available with the railways are sufficient to take care of the present needs.

Railway minister Piyush Goyal said in September that the railways would go in for near-100% electrification of its network. The ministry had asked GE to reconsider setting up the plant. “The ministry had offered several other alternatives to GE. But because the contract was already awarded we had no option but to honour it,” a senior government official said.

The CAG also said the railways must review its dynamic fare policy for premium trains.