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

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Rail Analysis: Firstly, congratulations to the Alstom Team for successfully completing the acquisition of Bombardier Transportation. How do you see this step as a transformational step for Alstom and how will this step further fulfill the increasing demand of transportation worldwide?

Mr. Alain Spohr: Thank you. We successfully completed the acquisition of Bombardier Transportation in January this year. Today, Alstom has 75,000 employees worldwide in 70 countries and a combined proforma revenue of approximately €15.7 billion and a €71.1 billion combined backlog.

This acquisition has strengthened our leadership in the growing mobility sector worldwide. We have expanded our presence and offerings in all geographies and are integrating our solutions and assets to better serve our customers.

Alstom had announced its strategic plan ‘Alstom In Motion’ in 2019 to become the leading global innovative player for green and digital mobility. We are now leaders in smart and sustainable mobility. Going forward we will amplify our green and digital mobility solutions.

” India is an important market for Alstom. We share symbiotic relationship. We grow as India grows. Alstom is committed to supporting India’s infra and mobility needs. From leading signalling, to supplying largest number of metro trains, to dominating engineering and R&D space, Alstom is India’s true partner in mobility. There are a lot of technological advancements that Alstom is bringing to India as well as developing indigenously. In line with the Government of India’s ‘Make in India’ initiative, Alstom has been investing in the country to produce world-class rolling stock, components, design, research and development to serve not only the domestic market but also the rest of the globe. “

With our comprehensive portfolio of offerings, Alstom has emerged as the only multinational sustainable mobility provider in the country. We provide the widest range of products, services, infrastructure that can be customized. We offer cost-efficient mass-market platforms that score high globally on technological innovations.

 


 

Rail Analysis: Following your merger with with Bombardier, recently Alstom has been awarded the first contract by MMRDA to supply 234 metro cars for Mumbai Metro Line4 and the extension corridor. Please iform us about the brief scope of work of this contract?

Mr. Alain Spohr: Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) awarded us the contract to design, manufacture, supply, test and commission 234 metro cars, including personnel training for Line-4 and the extension corridor (Wadala-Kasarvardavali-Gaimukh).

This is our first order, following the merger with Bombardier Transportation. It demonstrates the confidence customers have in partnering with us and strengthens our continued commitment to Make-in-India.

Mumbai Metro Lines 4 & 4A are expected to reduce the current travel time by 50% to 75%. The contract is for 35.3- kilometre-long elevated corridor with 32 stations. It will provide interconnectivity with a host of public transit systems. It will connect the existing Eastern Express Roadway, Mono Rail, the ongoing Metro Line 2B (DN Nagar – Mandale), the proposed Metro Line 5 (Thane – Kalyan), Metro Line 6 (Swami Samarth Nagar – Vikhroli). We are elated to be awarded this prestigious project and we will be
commencing work on this.

 


 

Rail Analysis: Can you please share the updated footprint of Alstom after the acquisition of Bombardier Transportation in the Indian market for rolling stock, signalling and other initiatives in the Railway & Metro Sector?

Mr. Alain Spohr: In-line with Government of India’s Make-in-India initiative, we have been investing heavily in the country. Post-acquisition, we employ close to 8000 people in India and have 6 industrial sites – Bihar (Madhepura), Andhra Pradesh (SriCity), Tamil Nadu (Coimbatore), Gujarat (Savli & Maneja) and West Bengal (Kolkata), and 2 major engineering centres – Bengaluru (Karnataka) and Hyderabad (Telangana), across the country. Alstom has indigenous production for metro trainsets, electric locomotives, electrical traction, and control equipment. We continue to work with suppliers to strengthen this ecosystem and promote indigenous manufacturing in the country. Our expanded footprint puts India as the third biggest country in the world, after France and Germany.

URBAN MOBILITY

Alstom has played a key role in produce world-class rolling stock and components, signalling solutions and delivering engineering services to various Indian as well as global metro projects. With the Bombardier acquisition, there is a bit of Alstom in every metro project in the country. We have had the privilege of partnering in India’s dream to introduce metro rail as a safe & efficient mode of transportation in several Indian cities catering to millions of passengers.

Alstom India also caters to international market requirements by delivering engineering, components, and fully built trainsets for various countries across the globe – Australia & Montreal. So far we have delivered the Queensland commuter train, Sydney Metro NW line and currently working on the extension Sydney Metro city & Southwest line which is a testimony of the confidence that global customers have on our manufacturing capabilities in India.

Alstom’s Sri City (Andhra Pradesh) factory

MAINLINE SECTOR

As part of the largest Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) project in the Indian Railway sector, Alstom is currently indigenously manufacturing 800 fully electric super powered double-section locomotives of 12,000 HP capable of hauling ~6000 tonnes. These powerful e-Locos are being manufactured at one of India’s largest integrated greenfield manufacturing facility at Madhepura in Bihar. So far, 100 locomotives have been delivered and are in commercial operations on the Indian Railways network. They have cumulatively clocked more than 4 million kilometers.

” Recently, Alstom completed its scope of work and successfully delivered India’s first ‘Integrated Systems project for Railways’ on the Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor – 351 kms. of Signalling, Telecom, Electrification, and setting up one of the world’s largest Operations Control Centre (OCC) in Uttar Pradesh. This is the first fully electrified operational section of the Dedicated Freight Corridor project, which was inaugurated by the Hon’ble PM Narendra Modi on 29 December 2020. “

Alstom is also the OEM and pioneer in launching IGBT based 3-phase propulsion for high horsepower locos manufactured by Indian Railways. With a highly reliable product, the company is uniquely placed to remain a key player in the 3rd party equipment sales to Indian Railways, including the aftermarket annual maintenance contracts arising out of these sales. With a manufacturing installed capacity of 480 sets per annum from the Maneja facility in Vadodara, over 1000 3-phase IGBT propulsion sets have been delivered to Indian Railways (CLW, DLW) till date. Around 500 locomotives equipped with our propulsion system cover over 300,000 track km daily (pre-covid).

Alstom delivered India’s first ‘Integrated Systems project for Railways’ on Eastern DFC

Our Maneja site has been supplying propulsion equipment to Indian Railways for locomotives and EMU’s for over two decades. Following the successful delivery of propulsion and electricals for the Mumbai Vikas Railway Corporation (MRVC) II EMU project, we have reliable product catering to the EMU/MEMU market (rollingstock manufactured by Indian Railways). EMUs / MEMUs running on several zonal railways (catering to Mumbai and Kolkata suburban rail market deployed by ICF Chennai) spread across the country are equipped with our propulsion systems, and travel over 4 million km daily (pre-covid).

 


 

Rail Analysis: Now that the DFCC trials are going on for various stretches, post-delivery of the locomotives, what is the after sales maintenance you will be required to provide for these locomotives?

Mr. Alain Spohr: As part of the contract worth €3.5 billion, which is the largest foreign direct investment (FDI) for Indian Railways, Alstom is manufacturing 800 double-section, 12000-horsepower electric locomotives for freight service and undertake associated maintenance for a period of 13 years. Alstom is also building two ultramodern maintenance depots in Saharanpur and Nagpur. These depots will use predictive technologies to ensure high availability of the e-Locos and reduce maintenance cost. Work is underway for the construction of the maintenance depot in Nagpur, while the depot at Saharanpur is fully functional. Equipped with modern features, these depots will have a substantial role in maintaining India’s most advanced freight locomotives at significantly lower costs. Saharanpur depot also has a ‘Training Centre’ equipped with a loco simulator and smart classrooms being used for skill development of railway employees. Post certification from the Ministry of Railways and Commissioner of Railway Safety/RDSO in May 2020, we have successfully manufactured and delivered 100 WAG 12B locomotives by April 2021. These have been inducted for commercial service by Indian Railways.

Alstom’s 12000 HP Electric Locomotive started operations on Indian Railways

 


 

Rail Analysis: What is the current status of manufacturing the Rolling Stock for the Delhi-Meerut RRTS project and Kanpur & Agra Metro projects? Will you be manufacturing the coaches in Savli itself?

Mr. Alain Spohr: Alstom was awarded contract by NCRTC to design, build and deliver the regional commuter and ‘intracity transit trains with comprehensive maintenance services for the Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut semi-high-speed rail corridor under RRTS Phase 1.

These energy efficient semi-high-speed aerodynamic trains are being designed indigenously and will incorporate latest technologies and features. It will offer a host of safety, security and environmental benefits while keeping passenger comfort at the forefront. The fresh, modern, and advanced nature of the new train design is inspired by Delhi’s iconic monument, The Lotus Temple, resonating a unique amalgamation of sustainability and India’s rich heritage.

The train, in a three-car configuration, can accommodate around 900 passengers and nearly double in a six-car configuration. It will significantly increase public transport capacity between Delhi and Meerut. With their modular design, the RRTS trains can be expanded to nine-car trainsets. They will be manufactured at our Savli facility under the ‘Make in India’ initiative. The company will deliver and maintain RRTS trains.

” There is significant untapped potential for domestic manufacturers to utilize their existing capacities for targeting export markets, especially for urban metro trains. Therefore, we would urge the government to consider supporting companies significantly invested in India, conducting cutting- edge R&D and executing large railway development projects to come forward and make India an export hub. “

For the Agra-Kanpur metro project, the scope includes – design, build and delivery of 201 metro cars (67 units of MOVIA metro three-car trainsets) and advanced signalling solution (CITYFLO 650). These metro trains will also be indigenously designed and manufactured at our state-of- the-art manufacturing facility at Savli, Gujarat.

 


 

Rail Analysis: In the budget 2021-22, the government has committed nearly Rs 1.97 lakh crore in the next 5 years for Production Linked Incentive (PLI) schemes. How do you see this step of the Indian government and what are your plans to take the advantage of this scheme?

Mr. Alain Spohr: The Production Linked Incentives schemes announced by the Government of India over the next five years is a step in the right direction. Improving India’s domestic manufacturing capabilities and creating value addition for the GDP will be crucial for becoming Self-reliant. While the schemes have been announced mainly for ‘Champion Sectors’ with a large potential for exports, railways has not been included. India has a very strong domestic manufacturing ecosystem for railways due to consistent government investments in public sector undertakings and railway manufacturing units. Therefore, a large part of the requirements of railways are fulfilled domestically and it is only recently that other manufacturers have entered the market.

With rapidly expanding urban centres, the pressure on transportation infrastructure is likely to increase in the future which will warrant a sustainable and green alternative. This holds true for India and countries around the world. If Railways is considered as a Champion Sector,

India can play a transformative role in developing specialized capabilities to meet the needs of the future and creating a robust domestic manufacturing industry adding tremendous value to the overall GDP.

 


 

Rail Analysis: Any additional insights you would like to share with our readers?

Mr. Alain Spohr: India is at the cusp of transformation in mainline and urban mobility and sustainable mobility will play a key role in helping the government and businesses kickstart economic revival with renewed energy. We agree with the Finance Minister that connectivity is the essence of the economy and improving intercity connectivity is critical for boosting the pace and volume of economy. With sustainable mobility solutions, urban and mainline railways will transform the mobility sector and connect key cities, critical for the formation of smart cities, enabling faster movement of freight and passengers. The Indian Railways is making several coordinated moves to become more sustainable, like experimenting with hydrogen fuel-cell-based trains as well as electrifying its tracks—especially the dedicated freight corridors—to address its energy requirements, improve its operating ratio and reduce its environmental impact.

When it comes to hydrogen cell powered trains, Alstom is the only company in the world to have a product on tracks and not merely on the drawing board. Our hydrogen trains are mature in terms of availability and reliability, providing the same performance as traditional regional trains, but with the benefit of low noise and zero emissions. The Coradia iLint, which is the world’s first hydrogen powered train developed by Alstom, entered commercial service in Germany in 2018. It emits only steam and condensed water from its exhausts. It is also easy to integrate in an existing fleet and is compliant with all safety regulations. This could be a technology that India can look forward to adapting in the coming years.

” We are also excited about the deployment of new technologies, like ‘MetroLite’ and ‘MetroNeo’ for urban transport as this gives us more chances to collaborate and innovate for the Indian market. “


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