Software upgrade improves output by 10%
More than half of the existing fleet of WAP-5 class locomotives have already been upgraded to 6,000 HP rating, according to sources in Indian Railways. The upgrade was carried out primarily through modification in the locomotive’s control software. The rest of the fleet is also expected to be converted to the higher rating shortly.
The upgrade was a result of the Railway Board’s push to speed up passenger and freight trains. Various measures were identified as part of this push. Upgrading the locomotive fleet of IR was one of the key requirements. The modern, 3-phase propulsion equipped WAP-5s, WAP-7s and WAG-9 class locomotives were identified as suitable for power upgrades.
RDSO and CLW was asked to take up the project. Accordingly, trial software modifications were carried out on one loco homed at Electric Loco Shed, Ghaziabad. On successful conclusion of the trials, modifications were approved for remainder of the fleet of around 160 units held by maintenance sheds in Ghaziabad and Vadodara.
The 160 kph capable WAP-5 class was originally designed for a continuous rating of 5,440 HP. It was first inducted to the Indian Railways’ electric loco fleet in 1996. The light-weight ABB designed four axle Bo-Bo configuration locomotive was intended for high speed light-weight loads like Shatabdis and Rajdhanis.
As premium passenger trains grew in popularity, more coaches were added to these services. The 78-ton WAP-5 increasingly struggled to maintain speeds on all terrains. The problem was severe enough to make Central Railway ask other zones not to send WAP-5s on Mumbai bound trains via CR.
While the 6,000 HP upgrade is not expected to resolve all issues, sources expect the loco to better maintain speeds on services like Gatimaan and Shatabdis that run with the WAP-5
[The article has been updated to make corrections: References to the loco losing time on specific territory could not be verified]