INDIA: Alstom officially commenced production at its newly-built electric locomotive factory at Madhepura in Bihar state on October 11.

The plant has been developed on a 100 ha greenfield site by a joint venture of Alstom (74%) and Indian Railways (26%) under a contract for Alstom to supply 800 Prima T8 (WAG12) twin-section electric locomotives which was awarded by the Ministry of Railways in November 2015.

The contract allows for the first five of the locomotives to be imported, and the first two bodyshells have now arrived at Madhepura for fitting out. The remaining 795 must be manufactured locally in support of the government’s Make in India campaign.

The first completed locomotive is expected to be rolled out early next year. Five are to be completed by 2019, 35 by 2020 and then 60 in 2021, followed by production at a rate of 100 per year until the order is completed.

The contract is ‘one of the most prestigious projects for Alstom worldwide’, said Jean-Francois Beaudoin, Alstom's Senior Vice-President, Asia Pacific. The launch of production at the factory was ‘a commendable achievement for the entire company’, he added.

The factory currently employs 70 people, which will increase at a rate of 25% each year until it reaches full capacity. This will include the local recruitment of young people to support socio-economic development in Madhepura.

Beaudoin said Alstom’s ‘multi-million euro’ investment in the plant was proof of its commitment to infrastructure development in India. ‘In order to make a difference in this market, we need local expertise, competitive manufacturing capacity and close relationships with our customers’, he said. ‘The commencement of production at the plant is perfect testimony to our strategy to develop and grow a localised ecosystem to bring wide-reaching benefits for railways and the community at large.’

Alstom currently has its Indian headquarters as well as a rolling stock and signalling design centre in Bangalore, a metro rolling stock manufacturing facility at Sricity and a component plant at Coimbatore. As part of the electric locomotive project it is establishing maintenance depots at Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh and Nagpur in Maharashtra state.