Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Toshiba are vying for the contract, which comprises an off-the-shelf purchase of 30 locomotives and the domestic manufacture of 170 more through a technology transfer agreement.

Financial bids for the 6.7MW IGBT-traction locomotives will be opened on May 15. "Procurement will begin shortly thereafter," an Indian Railways official said. Two pre-series units will be delivered to IR for trials by the end of the year.

Bidding documents specify one in-service failure per 200,000km and fleet availability of 92%, with a maximum of 8% being out of service for maintenance at any given time.

IR currently has a fleet of around 5000 locomotives in the 3.35-4.47MW power range. "With the introduction of the Japanese locomotives, freight train speeds will be ramped up by approximately 30%," an Indian Railways official said.

According to India's National Transport Development Policy Committee, IR will need a locomotive fleet of 25,000 units by 2032.

Currently, only about 500 locomotives per year are rolled out of IR's two locomotive production plants. "Given the projected traffic requirements, IR has some ground to cover," admitted an official.

An update on the DFCs will appear in the April issue of IRJ.