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French co Alstom looks at Make in India initiative to double its biz to Rs 5,700 crore

Economic Times:  June, 2015

Milan: French transport company Alstom is looking to the Narendra Modi government's Make in India initiative to double its business in the country to 800 million euro (Rs 5,700 crore) in the next three years.

The company is expanding its manufacturing facility in Chennai and opening a new factory for building traction systems in Coimbatore this year. Alstom will also supply the German market from India.

"The business environment in India has improved over the last year," said Henri Poupart-Lafarge, president, Alstom Transporrt. "Things were not as rigorous on the implementation of projects till some time ago." Alstom says India is the only country where it has a complete supply chain from design to manufacturing sourced locally. It plans to hire more than 200 engineers annually over the next three years to support its expansion. It currently employs 800 engineers.

The company is also looking to bring its elevated tramway technology Axonis to India. This doesn't need tracks but runs on cables and has been pitched to various state governments, including Uttar Pradesh.

"If the proposal gets through, we will manufacture the train bogies in India itself," Poupart-Lafarge said. "Many states have shown interest as this is a much more practical solution for small cities with narrow roads. It can even be the feeder for metro services."

Alstom also expects growth from the dedicated freight corridor. It plans to partner Indian Railways in power supply and locomotives and has bid for the electrification and signalling contract for the Khurja-Bhaupur (343 km) section of the Eastern Corridor.

"The concept of smart cities is still being defined but transportation is an essential part and that is where our expertise comes in," Poupart-Lafarge said. Alstom globally provides the complete range of systems, equipment and services for railway systems.

In India, the company provided the initial coaches and the technology for the LHB (lightweight all-metal) coaches used on the Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains. Besides, it is also running Train Information Systems for the Delhi, Bengaluru, Jaipur and Kochi metros.

One of the biggest challenges that the company faces in its metro projects is the absence of standard norms, with each city demanding unique specifications. "The execution of metro projects could be faster and more cost-efficient if there are uniform standards," Poupart-Lafarge said. "The efforts of the Ministry of Urban Development in this direction are welcome."