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ovt to completely switch to electric trains, to phase out diesel engines in 5 years: Piyush Goyal

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In a bid to entirely switch to electric-driven trains, Indian Railways has decided to phase out diesel engines in the next five years. The move comes after two months post run-in with manufacturing giant GE over the making of diesel locomotives.

“We have planned to switch all trains to electric-driven in the next five years,” Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said on Tuesday, adding that the diesel locomotives would be used for backup purposes in the yards.

The move will enable the national transporter to save around Rs 11,500 crore annually, railway minister Piyush Goyal said at a meeting of the executive committee of the industry lobby group Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).

The government's decision raises uncertainty about GE’s Marhaura diesel locomotive project in Bihar, where the company is setting up a factory at an estimated cost of Rs 2,052.58 crore.

The project in which the Railways Ministry has limited equity contribution was planned for over a period of 10 years, whereby, GE was to supply 1,000 diesel locomotives of 4,500 and 6,000 horsepower with high-level performance guarantees.

On September 7, Goyal had asked Indian Railways to review the GE project given plans for complete electrification of its network by 2022, following which GE issued a statement saying that scrapping the project would have a “serious impact on job creation and skills development and cause the government to incur substantial costs”.

In October, Goyal affirmed that the GE project was on track and if required, a diesel locomotive manufacturing facility could be upgraded to make electric locomotives, adding that GE will be informed if Indian Railways' requirement change.

Spokespersons for GE did not respond to phone calls and text messages.

On railway safety, Goyal said that the production of German-based Linke-Hofmann-Busch (LHB) coaches with better safety features, which was recommended by a high-level safety review committee in 2012.

“I have asked the rail coach factories to develop the LHB coaches and also double up their production at Rae Bareli coach factory, which currently manufacturers 1,000 coaches annually,” Goyal said.

The Uttar Pradesh government has been approached for the allotment of 200 acres for the Rae Bareli coach factory’s expansion.