Indian Railways News

Western Railway GM inspects the Ongoing Gauge Conversion works on Ahmedabad–Himmatnagar Section

A K Gupta, General Manager, W. Rly carried out extensive inspection of the gauge conversion work of Ahmedabad –Himmatnagar section and reviewed the progress of the work on Tuesday, 13th March, 2018. Gupta also inspected Asarva, Naroda, Dabhoda, Nandol Dahegam, Prantij, Talod, Sonasan and Himmatnagar including the under construction station buildings, yard layout, circulating area and also the major & minor bridges, under bridge, foot over bridge, tracks, etc on this section. He instructed to speed up the pace of work. Gupta said that W. Rly is making all efforts to complete this project as soon as possible and plans to commence the passenger train operations by the mid of this year.

Tommorrow, Gupta will be undertaking the inspection of the gauge conversion work of Ahmedabad – Mehsana section as well as the work between Mehsana – Vadnagar stations of Ahmedabad Division. During the inspection, Gupta was accompanied by M K Gupta – Chief Administrative Officer (Construction), W. Rly and S K Garg – Chief Project Manager, Ahmedabad alongwith other senior officers.

Railways discontinues online booking of i-Tickets from March 1

In yet another green initiative, railways has discontinued the sale of i-Tickets, which enabled passengers to book paper tickets online.

Railway sources said the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Limited (IRCTC) has withdrawn i-Ticket booking through its website, effective from March 1. Launched in 2002, the i-Tickets booked in the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Limited (IRCTC) website were same as paper tickets booked at the counters.

They were delivered at the passengers’ addresses provided at the time of booking. The IRCTC charged Rs 80 per ticket for sleeper class/second class and Rs 120 per ticket for AC classes.In cities such as Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Mysuru, Mangaluru, Madurai and Coimbatore, i-Tickets could be booked two days in advance from the date of journey. For other cities, passengers had to book the tickets three days in advance.

“Since 2011, text messages received through short message service to mobile phones were considered a valid ticket. Now, SMSes are used to find the location of berths/seats and TTEs also do not insist on SMSes since ID proofs of passengers are verified. Hence, paper tickets became redundant,” said a senior railway official. I-Ticket service was offered mainly for the benefit of passengers who could not take the print out of e-Tickets and resided in remote areas.

When people located at outstations booked tickets for those with disabilities and elderly passengers residing in other cities, they received the tickets at their doorstep, avoiding the hassle of taking the print out of e-Tickets.The IRCTC sources said SMSes are considered valid tickets.Those who book the tickets for their relatives (elderly people) from outstations can forward those ticket details to passengers’ mobile phones.

“The TTEs have been given clear instructions that ticket details through SMS received from other mobile phones and not from IRCTC source are also valid. If the ID proof matches with the chart and if no other passenger claims the same berth, the passenger should be treated as bona fide,” explained a senior officer.

Though the move has shut out one way of getting train services without mobile phones by the elderly, Naina Masilamani, a member of Chennai Divisional Rail Users Consultative Committee, welcomed the railway decision.“Mobile phones are necessary for us, particularly the elderly people who travel in train. The move will not affect any section of passengers,” he said.

Eco-friendly step

Launched in 2002, the i-Tickets booked in IRCTC were same as paper tickets booked at counters. They were delivered at the passengers’ addresses provided at the time of booking.

The IRCTC charged Rs 80 per ticket for sleeper class/second class and Rs 120 per ticket for AC classes. In cities such as Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Mysuru, Mangaluru, Madurai and Coimbatore, i-Tickets could be booked two days in advance from the date of journey.

Southern Railway to run Nilgiri Summer Special Trains

The Nilgiri Mountain Railway is a popular tourist attraction for tourists travelling from Mettupalayam to Coonoor and Ooty.  This unique Meter Gauge section which has been conferred with Heritage status by UNESCO runs on ‘Rack and Pinion System’ through the virgin hills of Western Ghats.  The 28 kms stretch between Mettupalayam – Coonoor covered on the heritage steam train gives the tourists a life time experience and rekindles the romance of train journeys.

Based on the directives of Chairman, Railway Board and General Manager, Southern Railway, Heritage Steam ‘Nilgiri Summer Special Trains’ will be run between Mettupalayam – Coonoor from 31.03.2018 to 24.06.2018 to the following timings.

Description of Train



Days of Service

Train No.06171

Mettupalayam – Coonoor

Special Train

 09.10 (Mettupalayam)



On Saturdays & Sundays

from 31.03.2018

to 24.06.2018

Train No.06172

Coonoor – Mettupalayam

Special Train



 16.20 (Mettupalayam)

On Saturdays & Sundays

from 31.03.2018

to 24.06.2018

Southern Railway has made elaborate arrangements to make this travel a pleasant memory of life time with Value Added Services such as a Welcome Kit, a Souvenir, on-board refreshments, etc.  The all inclusive fare for the services will be as follows.



First Class

Second Class

Adult fare Child fare Adult fare Child fare













Advance reservations for the above services will commence at 08.00 hrs. on 14.03.2018.


Changes in train services (diversion of Chennai Egmore – Guruvayur – Chennai Egmore express trains between Tiruchchirappalli – Dindigul via Karur on 14th & 28th March, 2018 and other changes) were announced due to Line Block / Power Block for commissioning the second broad gauge line between Kalpattichatram – Tamaraipadi railway stations in Madurai Division.

The Line Block / Power Block has been cancelled.  Hence, trains will run as usual.

Train No.16127 / 16129 Chennai Egmore – Guruvayur / Tuticorin express leaving Chennai Egmore on 14.03.2018 and Train No.16128 / 16130 Guruvayur / Tuticorin – Chennai Egmore express reaching Dindigul on 14.03.2018 will not be diverted via Karur.  They will run via Manaparai as scheduled.

Rail Minister holds Consultations with Architects & Planners to discuss issues related to Station Redevelopment Program

The Union Minister of Railways and Coal Shri Piyush Goyal met with Architects and Planners to discuss issues related to Station Redevelopment Program. A total of 110 professionals from 54 firms participated in the meeting. The Minister was categorical that in view of the financial condition of Indian Railways and the paying capacity of public, there is a need for finding solutions that meet the aspirations of travelling public at low cost. Shri Piyush Goyal said “We shall work on providing innovative solutions tailored to uniquely Indian conditions. I am confident that we will eventually be in a position to share the expertise in other countries as well”.

This consultation meeting held with Architects was aimed to understand the issues and difficulties in participating in development/redevelopment of railway stations. The discussions were held on wide range of issues from the difficulties that the architects and planners are facing in participating in station redevelopment program; modifications required in various documents guiding the station design; general direction that station redevelopment program shall take. Minister Shri Goyal assured the participants that as desired the empanelment will be made in more categories; name of the Architect will be included in the plaque. The Minster also directed IRSDC to take up capacity building of Consultants as Station Development is as yet a new field. Shri Goyal also stated that young architects and planners shall also be involved in the station development program and they may be engaged for smaller/simpler stations.

It may be recalled that Indian Railway Stations Development Corporation Limited (IRSDC), as the nodal agency, is taking up redevelopment of around 600 major Railway stations across the country. Towards this objective of stakeholders’ consultation, an idea competition for development of 635 stations of Indian Railways, ‘SRIJAN’ (Station Rejuvenation Initiative through Joint ActioN) has been launched at MyGov portal since 26.01.2018.

This mammoth exercise will kickstart the program worth Rs 1,00,000 crore investments and requires extensive involvement of engineers, planners, architects and other professionals besides the contractors and developers. To prepare the plans for stations, IRSDC has taken up multiple initiatives:

  1. International Design Competition for 3 Railway Stations, namely, Nagpur, Gwalior and Baiyappanhalli
  2. IRSDC has empaneled experienced consultants with multi-disciplinary teams
  3. IRSDC has also invited professionals to take initiatives and share their vision for railway stations for a token fee and in response, eleven architects have registered themselves for development of 74 railway stations.
  4. SRIJAN (Station Rejuvenation Initiative through Joint Action), an Ideas competition has been launched by IRSDC, where users and young minds are invited to put across their ideas for implementing “Low Cost High Visibility” items at station areas. Around 450 entries have been received so far.

The last date for submission of entries in this competition is 26.03.2018. The winners will get certificates and worthy ideas will be incorporated in the designs. IRSDC has also launched competition through Mygov portal for IRSDC logo and tagline. The winner for logo competition will get cash prize of Rs 75,000/-and for tagline also will get Rs 75,000/-. The last date of submission of entries is 26.3.18.

Getzner’s Mass-spring Systems reduce Metro vibrations all over India

Pune / Buers (AT): Urban train operations generate vibrations and noise, which affect the people living and working in its surroundings.

The mass-spring system from Getzner efficiently mitigates such vibrations and the secondary air-borne noise. Getzner’s mass-spring system is installed in over forty cities worldwide – amongst them are the Indian cities of Bangalore, Delhi, Lucknow and Mumbai.

The train operations generate vibration energy at the track superstructure because of high dynamic loads. This vibration energy propagates through the ground and once it reaches a building, depending on the dynamic characteristics of the building, it can be perceived as vibrations or can be heard as secondary air-borne noise, adversely impacting the lives of people in the vicinity of the metro corridor.

“The effect of vibration and noise is different in every building depending on it structural characteristics. That is why we aim to control the vibrations at the source itself – the metro railway track”, explains Sanjay Risbood, CEO and Resident Director of Getzner India. “The goal of mass-spring systems is to elastically decouple the track superstructure from its surrounding in order to reduce the transmission of vibrations.”

The Austrian company Getzner is the world technology leader in the field of vibration isolation in the railway, construction and industry sectors.

The mass-spring system from Getzner uses the high quality micro-cellular polyurethane materials Sylomer® and Sylodyn®. Risbood: “These high-quality PU materials guarantee the long-term performance of the mass-spring system. This is of utmost importance because the maintenance or replacement of a mass-spring system after the installation and the start of train operations is very expensive, time consuming and sometimes not feasible, too. Hence, the mass-spring system should necessarily perform throughout the life of the track”.

Until today, Getzner has supplied more than 450 mass-spring systems worldwide. They all are performing effectively from the last 40 years without a need of maintenance or replacement.

Full surface mass-spring systems in India

Depending on the economic and technical requirements of the customers, Getzner offers three types of mass-spring systems: Full surface, strip bearing and point (discrete) bearing. Sanjay Risbood: “We have supplied full surface mass-spring systems for projects in cities of India like Delhi, Bangalore, Lucknow and Mumbai. The full surface mass-spring system is the most cost effective, it is easy to construct and gives the desired long-term performance.” With a full surface mass-spring system, the natural frequency in the range of 14 to 25 Hz can be achieved.

Mr. Risbood explains: “Getzner has already supplied several point and strip type mass-spring system solutions to various urban, mainline and high-speed train systems worldwide, wherever there is a need for lower natural frequency.”

Getzner Werkstoffe GmbH – the good vibrations company:

Getzner Werkstoffe is the leading specialist in the field of vibration isolation and protection. The company was founded in 1969 as a subsidiary of Getzner, Mutter & Cie. Its solutions are based on the products Sylomer®, Sylodyn®, Sylodamp® and Isotop®, all of which were developed and manufactured at Getzner’s own facility. They are used in the rail, construction and industry sectors to reduce vibrations and noise, improve the service life of bedded components and minimise the need for maintenance and repairs on tracks, vehicles, structures and machines.

Getzner markets its vibration protection solutions around the world. Alongside its locations in Buers and in Germany, Getzner also has offices in China, France, India, Japan, Jordan and the USA. Its tightly-knit distribution network in Europe is complemented by its distribution partners in the USA, South America and the Far East. Partners in a total of 35 countries around the world distribute Getzner Werkstoffe products to every location. By reducing noise and vibrations, Getzner is making a valuable contribution towards enhancing the quality of living and working conditions

PM Narendra Modi flags off the Varanasi-Patna Mahamana Express train from Manduadih Railway station

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday flagged off the third Mahamana Express from Varanasi to Patna. The train equipped with all modern facilities was flagged off from platform number one of the Manduadih railway station here.

The train will have 10 non-AC chair car coaches. The train will also have one AC coach and two general bogies. Among the facilities which have been provided in the coaches include LED lighting, charging points, digital display, high-quality toilet fittings etc.

Two Mahamana Express trains are already running from Varanasi, PM Modi’s Lok Sabha constituency, to New Delhi and Vadodara. A Mahamana Express train also runs on the Bhopal-Khajuraho route.

The Mahamana Express trains with plush interiors have been built under the Make in India initiative. The Modi government had launched the first rake of the Mahamana Express as part of Indian Railways’ Model Rake Project in 2016.

मंडुवाडीह से पटना के लिए चलाई जाने वाली इंटरसिटी एक्सप्रेस कई खूबियों वाली है। महामना एक्सप्रेस की तर्ज पर इसके कोच में तस्वीरों के जरिये भारत की विविधता और संस्कृतियों को दर्शाया गया है। मेघालय के खासी नृत्य से लेकर राजस्थान की पारंपरिक कलाकृतियों को जगह दी गई है।

पाषाण काल के दौरान भित्ती चित्रों के साथ ही पर्यावरण के प्रति जागरुकता के संदेश की तस्वीरें भी लगी हैं। अलग-अलग कोच में अलग-अलग प्रांतों की विशेषताओं की तस्वीरें लगाई गई हैं। ट्रेन के सभी कोच में बायो टॉयलेट हैं। इससे पटरियां गंदी नहीं होंगी। कोच में डस्टबिन और अग्निशमन यंत्र रखे गए हैं। डस्टबिन खुला नहीं होगा।

पुराने डिब्बों से बने हैं कोच

ट्रेन के सभी 11 चेयरकार और दो जनरल कोच पुराने डिब्बों की मरम्मत कर बनाए गए हैं। सभी कोच भोपाल स्थित सवारी डिब्बा पुनर्निर्माण कारखाने से निर्मित हैं। इसकी एक मात्र एसी चेयरकार बोगी भी पुरानी है। मंडुवाडीह यार्ड में शनिवार शाम तक इसकी सीटों के नवीनीकरण का काम चलता रहा। चेयरकार की हर सीट के सामने दूसरी सीट से लगी एक टेबलनुमा प्लेट लगी है।

सभी कोच में एलईडी डिस्प्ले है। इसके जरिये ट्रेन कहां पहुंची, कौन सा स्टॉपेज है, यह जान सकेंगे। इसके अलावा टॉयलेट खाली न रहने पर इसके ऊपर रेड सिग्नल का सिंबल दिखेगा। खाली रहने पर ग्रीन सिग्नल होगा।

  • 108 – सीटें हर जनरल चेयरकार कोच में 
  • 73 – सीटें एसी चेयरकार में 
  • 18 – सभी बोगियों में स्विच 

Indian Railways to increase efficiency via skill-based training in Core Sectors

Indian Railways has decided to send its staff members for “skill-based training” to enhance their productivity and efficiency levels.

Under the direction of Minister of Railways & Coal, Shri Piyush Goyal, a comprehensive plan for imparting training to all employees of Indian Railways is being prepared with a view to upgrade skill & knowledge. This comprehensive training programme named as Project Saksham will help boost productivity and efficiency.

The massive exercise for all its employees – Project Saksham – will continue for the next one year. Employees in each zone will be put through a week’s training in skills and knowledge relevant to their work area.

In a letter to the zonal General Managers, Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani emphasised that “there is a need to do a concentrated capsule of training for all employees in a short period of time to boost their efficiency”.

Under this plan, all employees in each zone will be put through a week’s training in skills and knowledge relevant to their work area over next one year. A communication to this effect from Chairman Railway Board, Shri Ashwani Lohani, has been sent to all General Managers of zonal railways and railways production unit.

With the growing rail network, new trains, different high-quality services, the growing expectation of passengers for better amenities and services – and the promise of the government to deliver superior and safe rail travel — there is a need to rise to the occasion to deliver the promise, Lohani said.

“While continuous learning and educational training has been an integral philosophy and approach of the Railways, there is need to do a concentrated capsule of training for all employees in a short period of time to boost their productivity and efficiency.

“So it has been decided that all employees in each zone will be put through a week’s training in skills and knowledge relevant to their work area over next one year,” Lohani said.

He also asked the General Managers to ensure that the training requirement is quickly identified for each category of employee in their specific zones and asked them to formulate a schedule by December 31, 2017.

“The training shall be a five-day-on-the-job or classroom training in railway training centres depending on the nature of the training,” he said.

Lohani also asked the General Managers to ensure that the reporting managers of all employees are actively involved in the training processes and the focus should be on “making a difference” on the job.

He instructed the General Managers to complete the training within nine months and asked them to personally monitor progress by devising metrics to ascertain the impact of the Project Saksham.

Following the stampede at the Elphinstone Station in Mumbai on September 29, in which 23 people were killed and over 150 injured, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal had announced a series of steps, including decentralisation of power, to carry out safety-related work.

On October 25, the Railways said that General Managers had been given full powers to sanction out-of-turn safety-related work without any ceiling “within the financial limit set out by Ministry of Finance”.

The Divisional Railway Managers (DRMs) and Chief Workshop Managers can now re-engage retired railway employees up to 62 years to take care of safety and maintenance related work wherever there are vacancies.

Enhanced powers for repairs of track machines were also given to the field officers for faster track safety work.

The Railways had substantially simplified the procedures for procurement of material like spare parts for locomotives, coaches and the like.

Junior field officers and supervisors in charge have been provided multi-utility vehicles and may hire vehicles for up to Rs.5,000 per case for rushing to breakdown sites without loss of time. This will lead to faster restoration of train services and improve punctuality/safety of trains.

DRMs were also given full powers to undertake projects on Build Own Operate Transfer (BOOT) basis like setting up of laundries and to enter into Annual Maintenance Contracts (AMCs) for critical equipment with the OEMs to ensure uninterrupted services.

Meanwhile, Station Directors in large stations had been given the powers of the Branch Officers in the divisions to enable them to take decisions for smooth operations. Instructions were issued to post young and dynamic officers as Station Directors at 75 important stations.

DHR Toy train gets AC Coaches

A tourist can soon travel up the hills in an air-conditioned coach of a toy train if he/she shells out a good amount.

The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway has introduced two air-conditioned coaches which will be attached to the toy trains next month.

On Monday, a trial run of one of the new AC coaches was conducted on the New Jalpaiguri-Darjeeling route with the general manager (construction) of Northeast Frontier Railway on board.

According to sources, the AC coaches would be introduced on the New Jalpaiguri-Darjeeling route.

“We have built two air-conditioned coaches for the DHR. More trials of the coaches will be conducted. Once it is confirmed that the coaches are capable of plying on the hilly tracks, then a final decision would be taken as to when they could run with passengers,” said M.K. Narzery, the DHR director.

A DHR source said: “The AC compartments may be formally inaugurated later this month or early April, when the railway board chairman would visit the hills. The fare for a passenger on the NJP-Darjeeling route is expected to be around Rs 2,000.”

Tour operators of north Bengal are elated over the AC coaches as it would be yet another feather to the cap of the DHR, a Unesco heritage site.

“Toy train is one of the major attractions for tourists visiting Darjeeling. Once the railways introduce AC coaches, more tourists would come up for the ride, particularly during summer,” said a tour operator in Siliguri.

At present, the DHR runs toy trains regularly between New Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling and there are joy rides between Darjeeling and Ghoom. Chartered services are also available for tourists.

Trouble-makers on Trains register an upward trend in Southern Railway

The number of persons involved in offences described under the Railway Act on trains and railway premises has seen an upward trend in the past three years in the Southern Railway.

As many as 1,15,160 people were arrested under 24 Railway Acts by the Railway Protection Force (RPF) in the Southern Railway between January 1 and December 31 in 2017, as against 1,10,948 people recorded in the previous year. In 2015, the number of arrests stood at 1,08,513. The data were revealed by the Ministry of Railways before Parliament recently.

The Southern Railway has jurisdiction over TN, Kerala, Pondicherry and parts of AP.The Railway Protection Force (RPF) has been empowered under the Railway Property (Unlawful Possession) Act to arrest and prosecute offenders related to railway property.In addition to this, RPF personnel have been empowered under the Railway Act to arrest and prosecute offenders involved in offences specified under 29 sections of the Act, which are related to alarm chain pulling, unauthorised hawking, touting, trespassing, travelling on roof and foot-board, travelling of male persons in coaches reserved for female passengers etc.

While the data revealed more number of persons involved in the offences on trains, RPF officials attributed the trend to increasing patronage for train services and strict enforcement of the Railway Act.

“Of the total cases booked by RPF, nearly 90 per cent have been booked under the Railway Act for various violations including foot-board and trespassing of tracks,” said a senior RPF official.

He added that both Tamil Nadu and Kerala had been witnessing huge transport demand for trains. “Compared to the number of passengers travelling in trains, the offences are marginal in two states,” added the official.In addition to this, to improve the safety of rail passengers, 111 CCTV cameras will be installed in Tamil Nadu  stations under Nirbhaya Fund, said a statement by the railways.

134 railway bridges to be renovated

To improve the safety of train operations, the Southern Railway plans to execute repair and renovation works of 134 railway bridges across the zone at a cost of `276.12 crore. According to an official statement, railway bridges are inspected at least twice a year, one before the onset of monsoon and another after the monsoon. The repair works involve both strengthening and rehabilitation of railway bridges and it is a continuous process being undertaken as and when warranted by their physical condition as ascertained during these inspections. “A proposal has been approved by Railway Board to take up renovation and rehabilitation of 134 bridges across the railway zone at an estimated cost of `276.12 crore,” added the statement.

Hydrogen Trains one of our Focus Areas: Alstom CEO

French railway major Alstom, which has completed building the first of 800 planned Electric Locomotives in a joint venture with the Indian Railways in Madhepura, is looking at making India a supply base for its global market. Chairman Henri Poupart-Lafarge told in an interview that Alstom’s proposed merger with Siemens Mobility will bring more investments and solutions to India, its fastest-growing market outside France. Edited excerpts:

Do you spot some changes in India?

The first time I visited was in 2000 and I have been here many times since then. There has been a tremendous change in terms of size and scale of what we do in India. What we do in transportation has been multiplied by 10. Speed of implementation has improved.

How has the investment climate in India changed over the past few years?

In the past few years, we have invested tremendously in India. I think we have grown and multiplied investments by a factor of three to four. In terms of people, we have 3,600 where a couple of years ago, we were a couple of hundred. So it shows the momentum of India and the business friendliness in India is increasing. It is important not only for the Indian market because it is booming in this sector, but also as a global platform and we are exporting from India to places like Australia, Europe.

Do you plan to make India a leading supply base for your global market?

We had standard product ranges in India in the past, then we diversified into signalling, which is very important for India. The factory at Madhepura is the entry into mainline – the locomotive world. We are also now increasingly entering into infrastructure activities and we are implementing a project in the dedicated freight corridor, but all this infrastructure is helping meet the needs of the Middle East. So India is growing a full range of activities – from mainland to urban, infrastructure, services as well. So this is for the Indian market and worldwide.

What is driving so much activity from Alstom in India?

In our world of public transportation, urban transportation, we need to be very close to all our customers, to be locally based to better serve our customers. This is definitely the case in India. At the same time, we need to be competitive. So the huge Indian platform is also a strong enabler for global competitiveness and it’s not only a question of cost but also of innovation. The urban transportation will require more and more digital technology in order to reach a greater level of efficiency.

What are your plans for Madhepura factory?

We have achieved this with some scepticism, to begin with. Now we need to go from producing a fantastic product to addressing the pollution problem. That will require heavy investment in Madhepura, but also, as importantly, a lot of investment in the supply chain. We want to develop a smooth supply chain in order to produce the remaining 799.

Can you put a timeline to it?

At full speed, we will deliver 100 per year, so on the whole it’s a 10-year contract and then, of course, we have the full maintenance. Of course, we see it as a main challenge but we see also this factory as a beginning of an extremely long history. The need for locomotives is huge in India.

As part of global restructuring – Alstom’s merger with Siemens – how does it change the India strategy given the financial stronghold of the merged entity?

The merger itself is here to speed up our strategy. So basically, the merger will allow us to be even closer to our customers and you can see this example in India where Siemens is also strong in terms of rail electrification. We need to think about our positioning and what we can bring to our customers in terms of global solutions, financing. We want to be the technological provider and the partner not only to the operator but to the railway authorities.

So does it translate into more investments along with new business models in India?

Absolutely! In terms of being the origin of engineering, everything will mechanically double in size, in terms of exports from India, in terms of engineering forces, etc. In addition, because of the changed business models, we need to invest more in India in terms of global solutions.

Indian Railways is investing a lot of money in upgrading its infrastructure and modernising it. What do you see as the major roadblocks?

We have this huge modernisation challenge and environmental challenge but in addition to that, you also have the safety challenge which comes into play. Environmental challenge is basically the electrification and its huge work to be done.

There is safety challenge, which requires huge level of investment in terms of signalling. Indian Railways is planning a signalling contract. What kind of business does it mean for Alstom?

Europe has been probably one of the pioneers of technology for signalling and similar to Europe, India has a high-density network, so I think there are some discussions around bringing the European technology to India and, of course, we will be more than happy to bring that. There are two elements – the pure technology, which is extremely important in the Indian context, but also it is an extremely ambitious project of management challenge because you need to install on mainline – it’s a little bit more complex.

Are you looking at more JVs in India?

We are discussing setting up joint ventures with some of our suppliers in order to balance the approach. Today, we cannot name the players. We are encouraging international players like ABB to localise in India the products we need for supporting our project in Madhepura. This also indirectly brings a lot of investments, skills to the country.

But there are railway projects going on for 40 years. Has execution actually changed?

Delhi Metro started more than 15 years ago and it has grown. The momentum has changed from one city to a large number of cities. For Indian Railways, in two years, we have developed locomotives in Madhepura, set up a new factory and manufactured. The speed of implementation has been fantastic. We built it in joint venture with Indian Railways and they did everything from certification onwards.

What are the focus areas for you?

Our focus is to add new technologies, and engineering capabilities in India. In the last 10 years, we have reached a stage where everything that’s needed is done in India — we have a factory in Coimbatore, for metros in Chennai and now one for locomotives in Madhepura. We will add manufacturing capabilities. Engineering is growing 20-25% every year. Now, we have 1,500 engineers in Bangalore, which is more than 20% of all engineers in Alstom. Manufacturing capability for India and global operations is 50:50. On engineering, it is 80:20.

Any other areas that you are interested in?

Electrification, of course. It is the future — whether you talk about electrification using catenaries, or the introduction of hydrogen trains, which is a terrific product to get rid of diesel. It has been worked out in Germany and a lot of countries have tested it out, including Canada. The cost of this train is similar to a cost of a normal train. But then, there is a cost of infrastructure which is difficult to estimate. We need to have hydrogen tanks on the poles, etc. It is a very good combination with renewable energy. Because when you have excess power, you transform that into hydrogen.

Talking about high-speed trains. India went with Japan partly because of the funding. How do you compete with these kinds of models?

We are totally dedicated to the ‘Make in India’ policy. We want to leverage that, localise and probably get some local financing. Of course, if you have external financing tied to loans, then, they will not comply with a ‘Make in India policy’. That’s another way of doing business but we are not there.

How do you compete when technologies are pushed based on funding?

In the case of Japan, you have seen that in some situations an input from Japan can at the end of the day, cost more to the Indian authority than making locally with local financing. What is being bought through Japanese financing from Japan might at the end of the day be more expensive than products being made by Japan in India.