GE’s Make in India plan to kick-off with Remote Monitoring Centre in UP

In line with India’s Make in India push, the company is importing only 40 locomotives, as against 100 earlier planned with Railways

NEW DELHI: Public private partnership in the Indian Railways is reaching a landmark this Thursday with American conglomerate General Electric unveiling its first maintenance shed set up on design, build and operate model at Roza in Uttar Pradesh.

Spread across more than 160,000 square feet of railway land, the maintenance shed would have diagnostics infrastructure that would have real time monitoring of GE locomotives in operation across the country. All locomotives in the fleet would be fitted with sensors comprising a set of sophisticated algorithms that diagnose and suggest maintenance actions, Nalin Jain, president and Chief Executive Officer-International, GE Transportation, told in an interview. GE has tied up with Vodafone for providing the GPS link between the maintenance shed and the locomotives.

The second leg of the project is coming up at Marhowra in Bihar from where India made locomotives would roll out in the second half of this year. This factory will be a replica of GE factory at Fort Worth in Texas. “We will be ahead of the target of February 22, 2019. The construction of factory is in full swing. The factory is split into two bays–high and low—with a moving production line. Loco will move from one end to the other. And from the low bay, different parts will come and sit on it,” explained Jain.

The Railways ordered 1000 GE fuel-efficient Evolution series locomotives in November 2015. The contract is spread over 11 years. The $2.5 billion contract, involving an investment of $200 million (Rs 1,200 crore) investment by GE, is expected to create at least 6,000 direct and indirect jobs, with 30 per cent of the workforce being women. Besides the maintenance and monitoring work, Roza has a training institute with a simulator and hostel for railway drivers and maintenance staff.

The company has developed a vendor network and forged tie ups with companies like Texmaco, air conditioner manufacturer Lloyd and SFO Technologies. “Being an iconic Indian project with 70 per cent localisation commitment, we have tied up with around 60 suppliers already. Moreover, this will be the first loco in India meeting international energy compliance with UIC-1 European standard rating,” said Jain.

In line with the government’s Make in India push, the company is importing only 40 locomotives, as against 100, it had planned under the contract with the Railways. Once fully operational, the Marhowra factory would be rolling out one locomotive in three days.

Nalin added that the GE locomotives will be 6-8 per cent more fuel efficient than the current fleet of railways. The first two locomotives have been imported from the US at Mundra port and during its trial run will undergo safety tests by the Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS).

The company is also using a Tool Room and Training Centre at Patna, where it will conduct two-three months training schedule for staff to be employed at Marhowra factory. Already, two batches have passed out of the institute, said Jain.