Railway engines to get National Institute of Design makeover

Driving trains will soon become a comparatively cushy job in the near future. For the first time, diesel engines are set to get a complete makeover in terms of aesthetics and ergonomics. The National Institute of Design (NID) in collaboration with Diesel Locomotive Works (DLW), Varanasi, is redesigning the interior and exterior of the engines from the drivers’ perspective.

The changes aim to make train driving a cool affair. For the first time in the history of Indian Railways, the drivers’ cabins will be air-conditioned and kept warm during winters with heaters. “Loco pilots operate in extreme conditions and through new design, we intend to provide them comfortable working conditions ,” said Praveen Nahar, senior faculty , NID.

The focus will be on providing better visibility to the drivers and better inner ambiance. “Visibility is the most important factor. We aim to minimize visual obstructions and increase leg space,” added Nahar.

The engines will also get brighter colours , new toilet design and windshield. “Providing better working environment and a new colour scheme are among the main changes,” said Balaji Rangarajan, faculty, NID and head of the project.

It was fatigue among the drivers that prompted DLW to go for complete renovation . “Sometimes, loco pilots work under very stressful conditions. They have to deal with vibration, noise, heat…” said Amit Kumar Agarwal, chief designer , DLW. “I have been a driver myself. The decision for a makeover was taken after many consultations with loco pilots.”

Every year, DLW manufactures 150 WDG 4 engines (diesel engines). Currently , there are 800 of these on the tracks and over 20,000 loco pilots operate them. With the new design, DLW also aims to attract customers from different countries and expand their export market.

A lot of research for the project has also been carried out at Drivers Training institute in Sabarmati.


50 made-in-India railway engines to chug into Pak

After months of dilly-dallying, India has finally agreed to sell and lease out its locomotives to Pakistan, thus helping the neighbouring country restart its defunct train services.

In the first-of-its-kind deal, the Indian Railways will deliver 50 refurbished American Locomotive
Company (ALCO) technology locos at an estimated cost of Rs. 350 crore.

Another set of 50 new locos of a higher horsepower (3000-3500) will also be leased out. Lease charges of Indian locomotives work out to Rs. 900 per hour or Rs. 21,600 per day.

Pakistan is expected to get delivery of the first instalment of 10 refurbished engines of 2,000-2,600 horsepower capacity sometime next year.

The proposed arrangement will include a liberalised visa regime for Indian engineers who will be required to visit Pakistan for training purposes.

While yearly maintenance of engines is proposed to be done at the Indian Railways shed at Ludhiana, the Pakistan government has agreed to ramp up facilities at its railway shed at Mughalpura near Lahore.

Running 19,000 trains over a 54,000-kilometre network each day, the Indian Railways is hugely stressed for train engines.

“But the production units will churn out train engines in bigger numbers in the coming years. Issues with Pakistan have now been sorted out. We will shortly start working on the modifications and fix up the used locos to be delivered to Pakistan,” officials said.

With 137 of its fleet of 494 locos dysfunctional, train operations in Pakistan have virtually collapsed and annual losses worth a whopping R25 billion have been reported. In the last four years, the Pakistan government has provided Rs. 93 billion subsidy to its railways department, Rs. 32 billion as assistance for development projects and Rs. 14 billion as overdraft from the State Bank of Pakistan, railways minister Ghulam Ahmed Bilour said recently.


Rs 200-cr locomotive plant to be set up in Sehore

An Indo-US joint venture firm has announced to set up the first diesel locomotive plant to manufacture environment-friendly and fuel-efficient railway engines at Sherpur village in the adjoining district of Sehore.

The firm will invest over Rs 200 crore for the project. Disclosing it to the media persons the Managing Director of the Daulatram Engineering Services Pvt Ltd CP Sharma said his firm had entered into a partnership with the US-based National Railway Equipment Company (NREC) to star the pioneer project in the state.

According to him, it was the first such example in which a private firm was given the permission in the county to manufacture diesel locomotive.

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Industries Minister Kailash Vijawrgiya will lay the foundation stone for the ambitious project at Sherpur village on Saturday, Sharma said.

The plant will be set up in a 50 acre land already acquired by the company. “The joint venture has already bagged the order from Indian Railways and Chennai Metro to manufacture two such engines for them. These are currently being manufactured jointly by the company along with Diesel Locomotive Modernisation Works in Patiala,” he said. These two locomotives will be rolled by January next from the Patiala unit, Sharma said.

The next five locomotives will be rolled out from the new facility in next 18 months.