The consortium, which includes the Toshiba, Mitsubishi Electric and Mitsubishi Corporation, submitted the only technical bid for the contract on June 30. The financial bids will be opened in October and the contract is likely to be awarded by the end of the year.

Under the technology transfer clause in the Rs 35bn ($US 660m) contract, the first 40 locomotives will be built in Japan, while the following 30 will be delivered partially completed for final assembly in India. A further batch of 30 locomotives will be delivered as kits for local assembly, with the remaining 100 units being built in India. Two pre-series locomotives will arrive in India early next year and the first 38 locomotives must be delivered to IR within two years of the contract being signed.

The fleet will be maintained by the manufacturer at a purpose-built depot at Rewari in the northern state of Haryana.

In recent years freight traffic has surpassed 1 billion tonnes, but India lacks the technology and infrastructure to meet future requirements.

The National Transport Development Policy Committee forecasts IR will require a fleet of 25,000 locomotives by 2032, IR currently has only around 5000 locomotives in the 3.35-4.47MW power range on its roster.