Diesel Locomotive Modernisation Works, a part of the Indian Railways’ production unit, manufactured 17 electric locomotives in June, amid restrictions imposed to check the spread of COVID-19. Among these are 8Wheeler-diesel electric tower cars (DETCs) that rolled out of the unit’s factory in Patiala. Sharing the news on Twitter, the Union railways ministry Piyush Goyal called it an “amazing feat” and posted pictures of three locomotives rolling off the line.
The unit worked with 30% staff members in April and 20% in May – when the pandemic was in full swing in its second wave that forced many states to announce strict local restrictions – reports quoted officials as saying.
The unit shifted from producing alco locomotives to electric locomotives in the past two years to support the accelerated electrification of Indian Railways. The entire process included re-skilling of staff members and overhauling of the shop floors, machines, and the planning process.
Series production of commenced from 2019-20 with the plant manufacturing 127 units so far. The railways have moved to expedite electrification of the network in the past seven years.
Railway minister Piyush Goyal said in May that the national transporter recorded the highest ever electrification of sections across the Indian Railways network in the 2020-21 fiscal despite the effects of Covid-19 towards the end of the year.
While manufacturing activity resumed following the lifting of lockdown curbs in June 2021, it came to a grinding halt once again in March this year following the outbreak of the second Covid-19 wave that led many states to announce localised lockdowns and restrictions to prevent further spread of the virus.
During fiscal 2020-21, Indian Railways achieved the highest ever electrification of sections, covering 6,015 Route Km in a single year, surpassing the previous highest of 5,276 RKM achieved in 2018-19, The Financial Express reported.