The first two shunting locomotives are set to be delivered in 2019, with the remainder delivered over the next 10 years. Final assembly of the units will take place at GE’s plant in Astana with a certain percentage of the parts set to come from US suppliers. Engines will be manufactured at GE’s Grove City site in Pennsylvania, while its Erie facility will be involved in design and engineering.

The agreements were signed during Kazakhstan president Mr Nursultan Nazarbayev’s visit to the US and GE says the contract continues the company’s long history of collaboration with KTZ, its largest international customer.

“We selected GE technology to be the primary driver for developing Kazakhstan’s rail industry, and together we’ve introduced joint projects to modernise and service the legacy diesel-electric fleet, as well as produce new freight and passenger Evolution series locomotives in Astana,” says Mr Kanat Alpysbayev, chairman of KTZ.

“In addition, we are currently working on a number of projects under our Digital Railway Programme, including deploying GE’s Trip Optimiser to improve the efficiency of freight transport.”