20 locomotives fit for operation after rectification of faults

Updated August 17, 2019

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“The US manufacturing company’s engineers have fixed the fault by updating software of the 20 engines."  APP/File
“The US manufacturing company’s engineers have fixed the fault by updating software of the 20 engines." APP/File

LAHORE: The Pakistan Railways (PR) has finally declared 20 locomotives of 2,000HP fit for operation after a technical team of a US firm fixed the fault.

“The US manufacturing company’s engineers have fixed the fault by updating software of the 20 engines that were creating technical issues during commissioning phase. And after they (the engineers) fixed the fault, the PR team recently conducted their test run and declared them fit for operation,” an official source told Dawn on Friday.

The PR, during the tenure of the former railway minister, had decided to purchase 75 locomotives from the US company. The firm, upon receipt of order, manufactured and supplied 55 freight-specific locomotives (worth over Rs350 million -- each of 4,000 horse power) more than one year ago. The remaining 20 (each worth Rs220m or so of 2,000HP) passenger-specific engines were received to the PR in April this year and passing through certain tests required ahead of beginning their commercial operation. However, over 10 of the 55 locomotives (4,000HP) developed faults in various parts -- suspension, shock absorbers, vertical damper etc -- during warranty period and the company replaced the faulty parts with the new ones.

About 20 locomotives of 2,000HP that had reported problems in their software were also declared fit after the company engineers fixed the issue by updating the software. The engineers also imparted training to the PR’s technical officials including drivers and assistant drivers regarding an appropriate operation of the engines.

“Actually the problem that developed in these 20 engines during the commissioning phase was that the software was not reflecting red signal on the screen / panel installed in the engine at the time of alarm chain pulling. And without blinking of the red light, the engines also used to be switched off automatically,” he said.

Before calling the engineers, he said, the PR officials concerned conducted the test run of these engines three times on various routes.

“During the trial run, the locomotives cleared test one time only and in the fourth test, the PR experts finally declared these locomotives fit for operation.”

The official said the company might replace these locomotives’ software in future in case the problems reoccur. He said since the warranty period for the 20 engines of 2,000HP would expire after two years, the company, on the complaint of the PR, also replaced some faulty parts of more than 10 of the 55 engines (4,000HP). The warranty period expiry date for all these 55 locomotives is Sept 30.

According to another official source, the 20 new locomotives are now safe to run after the PR experts carried out the final test run keeping in view the inspection by the US company engineers. “It was not a big issue since the locomotives were passing through commissioning phase. Besides some minor technical issues, there was also a problem of understanding the locomotives on the part of drivers,” he said.

“Since all the issues have been solved, the PR will put these locomotives into commercial operation shortly,” the official maintained.

Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid in May 25 press conference at the PR Headquarters had warned the US firm of forfeiture of its performance bond if it didn’t rectify the fault developed in the newly purchased locomotives. He had also told the media about serving a notice to the US company, requesting it to fix the fault and make these according to the local standard.

Published in Dawn, August 17th, 2019