Railway cooperation on table during Modi’s US visit

New Delhi : After Japan and China, India would seek to link up with the US in the railways sector, especially in manufacture of locomotives, during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to America.

Two major American firms – Electro-Motive Diesel (EMD) and General Electric – have been shortlisted for the manufacture in PPP (public-private partnership) mode of heavy locomotive engines.

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The two firms have been shortlisted from among many other global companies, including German, Indian Railways spokesperson Anil K. Saxena told IANS.

The shortlisting of the firms has proceeded from the Request for Quotation (RFQ) to the Request for Proposal (RFP), which is the financial bidding stage. The two firms have cleared the qualification stage, Saxena said.

Modi during his Sep 26-30 US trip will be discussing railway infrastructure expansion with Washington, an official source told IANS. On the table is a proposal for advanced locomotives and freight car technology, the source added, declining to be identified.

According to Saxena, India is planning to jointly manufacture locomotives in PPP mode in two locations in Bihar – at Madhepura for electric locomotives and at Marhaura for diesel locomotives.

“The Madhepura unit will be for manufacturing 12,000 horsepower locomotives meant for dedicated freight corridors,” the official added.

Besides General Electric, the other companies in the race for the Madhepura unit were Alstom of France, Canadian multinational Bombardier, Siemens of Germany, and China’s CNR Corp. Ltd and CSR Corp.

The two locomotive factories in Bihar were finalised by the central government last year and approved by the union cabinet in January. The two projects are estimated to cost Rs.1,294 crore and Rs.2,053 crore, respectively, with limited equity contribution by the Ministry of Railways.

The Madhepura unit is to provide Indian Railways with 800 electric locomotives of 12,000 horsepower each while the Marhaura factory is to provide a mix of 1,000 diesel locomotives of 4,500 horsepower and 6,000 horsepower over a 10-year period, according to a government statement.

India has inked agreements with Japan and China for cooperation in the manufacture of high speed railways during talks between Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Electro-Motive Diesel (EMD), is owned by Caterpillar, a US Fortune 500 company that manufactures construction equipment. General Electric is also a Fortune 500 company.

Modi will be meeting the CEOs of the two companies during his meeting with US business honchos in the US on Sep 28.