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Diesel factory in Bihar will be intact though Electrification is my priority: Rly Minister Goyal

Railway minister Piyush Goyal has ruled out the possibility of the government scrapping a contract with US giant, General Electric (GE) , to supply and maintain 1,000 diesel locomotives.

The first batch of diesel locomotives from GE are expected to arrive in India in early October, Mr Goyal said, dismissing reports which speculated the government would have to pay damages to the American conglomerate if the contract is terminated.

“The Marhaura project is on track...I have had fruitful discussions with the South Asia and India head of GE,” Goyal said at a press conference on September 18.

He added that the government’s focus is on electrification of the Indian railway network but clarified that these plans will not jeopardise the contract with GE for manufacture of diesel engines.

The decision to push for electrification comes from the need to save funds needed for modernising the world’s fourth largest rail network.

Currently, India’s manufacturing capability of electrical locomotives is only 200 a year by the Railways. Another plant built by Alstom at Madhepura will supply another 80 per year.

As per the electrification plans, the Railway network would need around 4500 electric engines, fueling speculation that this would make GE’s diesel locomotives redundant. The American major does not manufacture electric locomotives.

Goyal ,who took over as railway minister recently, is keen on extensive use of electric locomotives, while the existing fleet of 1500 diesel locomotives will serve as a backup.

I am very keen that we should electrify the entire railway network. My mission is 100 per cent electrification. Electricity is a domestic and self-sufficient resource whereas we have to import diesel. Railways is spending a sum of Rs 16,000 crore every year in diesel consumption. So, I will save Rs 8,000-10,000 crore,” Goyal had said earlier.

GE is developing a Diesel locomotive factory at Marhoura in Bihar and a maintenance shed in Uttar Pradesh. As per the project plan, the factory will provide India with 800 diesel locomotives over the next decade.

GE also has a $2.5 billion contract with the railways for importing 1,000 additional diesel locomotives.


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