IR says the conversion has increased the output of each Alco locomotive by 92% from 1940kW to 3730kW or 7460kW for the twin unit.

A team of rail engineers from the Research and Development Organisation (RDSO), Diesel Locomotive Works, Chittranjan Locomotive Works and Bharat Heavy Electricals claim to have completed the conversion in 69 days. The twin locomotive will undergo trials in the summer.

As a result, the IR board sent a memo on February 27 to the general managers of the 17 railway zones instructing them to send diesel locomotives due for overhaul to the Diesel Locomotive Works in Varanasi for conversion. The zonal general managers have also been instructed to put on hold the sanctioned procurement of diesel locomotives until further notice.

However, there is disquiet within some quarters of India’s rail establishment with some engineers questioning the claims being made for the performance for the converted prototype ahead of tests on the track.

“The converted locomotive is a crudely improvised job, as electric components have been accommodated on the WDG2 platform by cutting pockets and welding new sheets to the Alco underframe, and the locomotive’s fuel tank has been removed to accommodate the electrical equipment,” one railway engineer claimed. “But the impact of these modifications on the dynamic behaviour of the underframe during motion has not been assessed.”