New Delhi: The first diesel-electric locomotive built by US conglomerate General Electric as part of a USD 2.5 billion deal to supply 1,000 such engines to the Indian Railways has arrived in India.
The project, a joint venture between the Indian Railways and GE to supply and maintain modern diesel electric locomotives of 4,500 HP and 6,000 HP to the public transporter, was announced in November 2015.
GE clarified that the work on a diesel locomotive factory in Bihar's Marhowrah is on track, days after Railway Minister Piyush Goyal ruled out any changes in the deal.
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.
"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 on the sidelines of the International Rail Conference and the 12th edition of the International Rail Equipment Exhibition (IREE) 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 the Indian Railways over 11 years, he said.
"Our partnership with the Indian Railways is a best-in-class bilateral example of how entities can work together to create jobs and drive economic development in a region," said Mr Wanchoo.
"Through this project, we're creating a robust supply chain ecosystem in India, and will localize more than 70 per cent of all content. We're proud of the more than 6,000 jobs that have been created by GE in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, and remain committed to our work in the country," he said.
Mr Goyal had last month said there would be no changes in the Marhowrah factory set up.
But, the railway minister had also said 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.
Mr 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 in, 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," Mr Wanchoo said.