NEW DELHI: US giant General Electric today clarified that the work on a diesel locomotive factory in Bihar’s Marhowrah is on track, days after Railway Minister Piyush Goyal ruled out speculations that the government might exit the project contract.
The project, a joint venture between the Indian Railways and the GE, was announced in 2006-07 to supply and maintain modern diesel electric locomotives of 4,500 HP and 6,000 HP to the railways.
The railways had issued the Letter of Award for setting up Diesel Locomotive Factory (DLF) with GE Global Sourcing India in November 2015.
But with government’s thrust on electrification of tracks to combat pollution, there was a buzz, and some media reports, that it could exit the contract for manufacturing diesel locomotive.
“The first of 1,000 diesel-electric evolution series locomotives has already arrived at India’s Mundra Port,” Vishal Wanchoo, President and CEO, GE South Asia told PTI in the sidelines of the International Rail Conference and the 12th edition of the International Rail Equipment Exhibition (IREE) 2017 held here today.
“The work in our diesel factory in Bihar is on track and as the minister has said there are no changes in the contract,” he said, adding GE was actually ahead of schedule.
“The plan is to deliver 100 locomotives per year on an average. The first fiscal year will be little bit more. We plan to deliver the 1,000 locomotives to Indian Railways over 11 years,” he said.
Goyal had last month said that there would be no changes in the Marhowrah factory set up.
But, the railway minister had also said that he had discussions with top executives of GE to explore how the objectives of reducing pollution, bringing down overall cost and honouring agreements with the global conglomerate be met.
Wanchoo said GE has no plans to manufacture electric locomotives at the Marhowrah factory.
“GE bid for diesel locomotives and our Bihar plant can manufacture only diesel locomotives. Two contracts were floated and we bid for the diesel plant.
“However, we support the government’s electrification process. In every country that we operate, we supply these locomotives. Most countries wherein we operate have an electrification program, which makes a lot of sense, but the diesel locomotives also co-exist for various reasons as they are efficient and affordable,” Wanchoo said.