GE Transportation, a division of General Electric of the US, and Alstom, the French engineering company, are frontrunners to win multibillion-dollar contracts to build and sell train locomotives as part of India's ambitious railway modernization program, officials familiar with the bidding process said.
The two companies have been selected from a shortlist of seven — which included Bombardier, Siemens and Electro-Motive Diesel — to supply at least 1,800 diesel and electric locomotives over 11 years from two factories that are due to be built in the Indian state of Bihar, the officials said.
They declined to give financial details of the bids, which remain subject to final confirmation. Nevertheless, executives at Indian Railways, the state-owned rail authority, estimated that the total investment needed to build the factories could be as much as $3.4 billion for an electric locomotive plant and $3.1 billion for a diesel locomotive plant.
The initiative to lure multinational engineering companies to India to make advanced locomotives is part of a broader initiative to modernize the country's congested and creaking railway system.