“First time in world” Indian Railways Creates History By Converting “Diesel Locomotive Into Electric Locomotive”

“First time in world” Indian Railways Creates History By Converting “Diesel Locomotive Into Electric Locomotive”

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Date Of Post: 03 Mar, 2018

Varanasi: DLW (Diesel Locomotive Works), has just turned out WAGC3 class of locomotive (Number 001), creating history. This 5,000 hp unit is one half of a 10,000 hp locomotive. What is remarkable about this new series is the bold concept on which it is based, wherein two diesel locomotives of WDG3A class are converted to one permanently coupled 12-axle, electric locomotive of 10,000 hp.

This old WADG3A locomotive delivers about 2600Hp on rail, whereas each unit of newly indigenous made Make In India WAGC3 class is 5,000 hp an increase in capacity by almost 92%.

A crack team consisting of engineers from RDSO, DLW, CLW and BHEL worked under the leadership of Mrs Rashmi Goel GM DLW and under overall Guidance of Shri Ghanshyam Singh Member (Traction), Railway Board. For this audacious attempt the team set very tight targets for itself. It was decided that only those locomotives will be considered for conversion which are due for mid life rehabilitation (where the diesel locomotives are practically given new heart), retain their chassis, bogies and traction motors. Team adventurously attempted was to use the sidewalls and roof of decommissioned WAM4 class electric locomotive.

The work needed detailed system engineering as there were no precedent designs and experience available any where in the world. RDSO prepared equipment layout and DLW prepared the drawings for modification of the WDG3A chassis. The modifications were vetted by RDSO after detailed finite element analysis on standard load scenerios. However, as work progressed several modifications were necessitated. Also, RDSO with BHEL, the OEM, worked on power drive of the locomotive and zeroed on WAG7 class electrics (the 5,000 hp work horse of Indian Railways) to work with the existing traction motors.

Thus a work which got kicked off on 22 Dec 2017 when the engineering team brain stormed in Railway Bhawan, the WAM4 locomotive was received at DLW just a couple of days later on 24 Dec. By 29 Dec 2017, the 3D models and weight balancing of the locomotive was completed. On 4 January, 2018, stripped WDG3A chassis was received from DMW, Patiala and the work began in right earnest. Unlike a diesel locomotive, electric locomotives have a monocoque design, where the sidewalls are load bearing members. As the removal of engine and alternator resulted in net reduction of 10 tons of weight even after accounting for transformer and its control elements, this was used to put additional strengthening elements. Keenly aware that work was being done using a chassis which has seen active use of eighteen years, suitable changes were made.

Electric control became next challenge as each unit has single cab, whereas all available circuits are for twin cabs (historically electric locomotives had dual cabs and till recently, diesel locomotives had single cab), Thus, control wiring of almost nine kilometres needed substantial adaptation. Surmounting these challenges, as scheduled, the locomotive was successfully completed for despatch on 28 February 2018. The unit would go for safety and rating trials. The prototype unit would be examined for other possible improvements.

Chassis modification for second unit has already started. What began as an audacious dream has borne fruit finally. A twin CoCo, WAGC3 would equal power of almost four WDG3A and go a long way to improve the average speeds of freight trains-a key challenge for IR’s operations.

Realisation of WAGC3 is testimony to the new work culture and ethos of IR that of silo-less working, matter of fact designs, senior leadership sharing the trenches with frontline staff and leading from the front.

Source: Ministry of Railways – Facebook  | Image Credit: Diesel Locomotive Works

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