Mobility Is At The Heart Of Everybody's Challenge: Henri Poupart-Lafarge

Alstom's CEO speaks on why the future of transport is electric and how new technologies will demand fresh solutions

India is a crucial market for Alstom, says Henri Poupart-Lafarge, 48, the CEO of the French multinational and railway major. In March, the company announced the launch of its first electric locomotive from its facility in Madhepura, Bihar. In an interview with Forbes India, Poupart-Lafarge talks about why India is a potential manufacturing hub, the rapid modernisation of the railway infrastructure in the country and how hydrogen trains could be an integral part of transport in the near future. Edited excerpts: 

Q. India is a crucial market for you. Do you come here often?

We are now in India with the French delegation [French President Emmanuel Macron was in the country in March], but I have been coming to India for several years as we have had a number of activities lined up; the first time I came was in 2000.

Among our recent projects was the launch of an all-electric locomotive at our facility in Madhepura, Bihar. It has been a fantastic project in partnership with the Indian Railways. In two years, we have managed to develop a new locomotive in India and manufacture our first all-electric one. For us, it is also the first locomotive that is being developed in the Indian market with Indian Railways; this will be the first in the 800 WAG12 twin-section electric locomotives. The production will span over 10 years. We are also aiming to develop new products for the Indian and export markets. Madhepura will be the hub of all our locomotives. Besides, at the factory, we hold test drives and develop equipment to manufacture these locomotives.

Q. Could you tell us about your export plans from India?

We are looking to export in the long term, to the Asian or to the global markets. About five years ago, we developed a factory in Chennai for metro coaches. This was done for the Indian and export markets. For example, we have exported metros from Chennai to Sydney. India is a fantastic market and offers a great platform to reach out to the Indian as well as the export market.

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