Exclusive Interview With Mr. Alain Spohr, Managing Director, India & South Asia, Alstom

Rail Analysis India : Congratulations, Please tell our readers more about the recent achievement by Alstom for the Madhepura Project?

Mr. Alain Spohr : The Madhepura Electric Locomotive facility is a JV between the Indian Railways and Alstom. This is the first major FDI of its scale in the Railway sector, with an initial investment of INR 1300 crores to manufacture 800PRIMA (WAG 12) double engine locomotives over the next 10 years. Within a span of a year, not only did we complete the first phase of the facility but also successfully completed the first locomotive on schedule. A major achievement for us given how this sector is often riddled with delays. Additionally, Alstom delivered on its promise to produce a true “Make in India” locomotive whereby we had been successful in setting up a local supply chain that has provided us with almost 90% of the required components from within the country. A very happy achievement for us.

Rail Analysis India : What has been the most challenging aspect of this project? How did you manage to meet the challenge successfully?

Mr. Alain Spohr : The remote location of this facility had been a challenge for us. In order to overcome them, the site team closely collaborated with the local stakeholders from the beginning. We also engaged with the local communities to understand their needs. The locals and the authorities have supported us in this challenging journey and it is because of the phenomenal support that we received from them that today we have successfully completed this milestone. In fact our JV partner – Indian Railways has been a great support on this project.

Image Credit : Alstom

Rail Analysis India : Can you briefly list us some significant points about the project and its essence in terms of Alstom and its presence in India?

Mr. Alain Spohr : Speaking about Madhepura specifically, this project is undoubtedly, the strongest endorsement of the Government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative in this sector. In fact, Alstom is setting up an infrastructure base in Madhepura to invite our supply chain partners to set up their manufacturing units around the e-loco plant to optimize production and supply processes. Alstom identifies India as one of the fastest growing markets that offers immense opportunities in urban transport with the government’s push towards modernization of infrastructure and making cities smarter and efficient. For Alstom, India is our second largest hub for innovation and manufacturing with 3 production facilities and 3600 employees across its offices and sites in the country.

Rail Analysis India : What are the Key points of the Alstom’s 12,000 HP ‘Prima’ locomotive? What type of latest technologies are being used in this new locomotive?

Mr. Alain Spohr : The WAG 12 electric locomotive will enable Indian Railways to have a fl eet of locomotives equipped with state-of-the-art IGBT propulsion technology. Introduction of 12,000 HP locomotives into Indian Railways will be a transformational step as it will allow Indian Railways to run heavy haul and long haul trains over the Dedicated Freight Corridor. With this quantum leap over the existing 6,000 HP locomotives currently being used for freight operations, Indian Railways will be able to run 6,000tonnes freight trains at speeds of up to 120 km/h. This step will position Indian Railways as among the very best in the world when it comes to freight haulage. These high horsepower electric locomotives are being built in compliance with the Indian standards of freight transport and are designed for the tough Indian climatic conditions. The significant jump in the operating parameters will also allow for faster, safer and more reliable freight movement across the country, thereby reducing congestion for passenger train services and freight services as also reduce the logistics cost of rail transportation. Our growth plans here include aiding in upgradation and modernization of Indian Railways, focus on sustainable urban mobility solutions for the future and building India as a global powerhouse for the business.

Image Credit : Alstom

Rail Analysis India : Regarding the production schedule, What is the present status of the same? What shall be the delivery schedule of the project and by when is Alstom expected to deliver its complete set of locomotives to the IR?

Mr. Alain Spohr : The first locomotive is ready as of February 2018.The locomotive is currently undergoing trials and we hope to see it in the network soon. As far as the project is concerned, we plan to roll out the next loco in 2019 and then increasing the production to 35 in 2020, 60 in 2021 and 100 each year till 2029 as stipulated in our contract with Indian Railways.

Image Credit : Alstom

Rail Analysis India : For 2018, How Many locomotives has Alstom targeted for production this year and further handing over to Indian Railways? When will these locomotives be used for Operations by the IR?

Mr. Alain Spohr : As mentioned before, the supply of the electric locomotives will follow the plan originally agreed upon with the Indian Railways. The first prototype has been delivered to the Indian railways in February 2018 as promised, which will be followed by the second in 2019. Post the trials and tests, the production will be increased to 35 in 2020, 60 in 2021 and 100 each year till 2029. A total of 800 double section freight electric locomotives will be supplied followed by the associated long-term maintenance of the said engines. Given the recent decision of the Hon’ble Minister of Railways to put electrification of the non-electrified sections of Indian Railways on a fast track, the requirement of electric Locomotives is likely to increase substantially. To that end, we do hope to get an opportunity to serve this burgeoning demand for electric locomotives and manufacture electric locomotives well beyond what the current contract envisages.

Image Credit : Alstom

Rail Analysis India : How much of the Supply Chain of the Locomotive is within India? Will there be further indigenization in India over the years of the project?

Mr. Alain Spohr : The PRIMA (WAG12) locomotive is made up of 2500 components out of which, 85-90% has been sourced locally from India making this a true Make in India project. It includes important components for the locomotive like the transformers from ABB, couplers from Faiveley, brakes from Knorr Bremse and so on. The remaining 10-15% or so has been supplied from across the globe, mostly from Alstom sites in France, primarily due to precise and sensitive nature of the parts. Alstom is already at a very high level of localization for this project to keep it competitive and continues to look at opportunities to further increase the localization aspect of the project.

Image Credit : Alstom

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