MAP24 Locomotive, A Turning Point in Iran’s Rail Industry

MAP24 is the first freight locomotive that has been completely designed and developed by an Iranian company. The locomotive’s supply chain and procurement have also been formed based on the plans by MAPNA Group. This is while, before 2016, the scope of Iranian companies’ activities in this field was limited to imports, assembly and operation of locomotives. Against this background, MAPNA Locomotive Engineering & Manufacturing Company embarked on the development of MAP24 freight locomotive in 2016 and put the first product into operation in May 2018 – within 22 months.
Prior to the launch of MAP24 locomotive production project by MAPNA Group in 2016, the Iranian rail industry was only active in imports or assembly of locomotives with the participation of foreign companies.
 
Before the 1990s, a considerable number of locomotives used in Iran were purchased as completely built units (CBUs) from American companies – and later, France’s Alstom Company – or were merely assembled inside the country. In the late 2000s and early 2010s, with increasing privatization of infrastructure companies, Chinese companies became the main exporters of locomotives into Iran.
With an already remarkable record in the power plant industry, MAPNA Group entered the rail sector after extensive negotiations with the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways and the Economy Council – a state coordinating committee. MAPNA Group embarked on this mission by committing to deliver 150 diesel-electric passenger locomotives under a Siemens license to the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways.
 
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The conglomerate started with establishment of MAPNA Locomotive Engineering and Manufacturing Company (MLC) – Iran's first and leading manufacturer of diesel-electric locomotives – in 2007 with a focus on the design, engineering, and manufacture of passenger, freight and maneuvering locomotives.
Earlier, MAPNA had signed a contract with Siemens in 2006 to transfer technology and initiate manufacturing of locomotives in its modern factory in the outskirts of Karaj, west of capital Tehran.
Shortly after the launch of MLC’s production line in 2010 and 2011, the company’s engineering team proposed the construction of passenger, freight and maneuvering locomotives. Subsequently in 2012-2013, MLC prioritized the acquisition of engineering knowledge by local experts, and within 18 months, the company delivered six 45-ton hydrostatic diesel-engine tunnel locomotives.
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Currently, three of the locomotives are operating in Mashhad subway construction project and three others are active in a similar project in Tabriz. Following these achievements, MAPNA Group decided to expand its footprint in the rail industry; therefore, the conglomerate started the production of MAP24 locomotives in mid-2016 and put the first model into trial operation within 22 months.
The idea for the construction of MAP24, which is fully designed and developed by domestic experts, was first put forward in 2014-2015 after the negotiations between MAPNA Group and international companies on building freight locomotives in Iran did not yield any result. The first MAP24 locomotive was unveiled after months of arduous effort by MAPNA Groups’ domestic experts – a product which was a transparent result of efficient management and proper utilization of the past experiences.

MAP24 is Iran’s first freight locomotive the design and procurement of which is completely owned by an Iranian company. Its supply chain is also formed based on the plans by MAPNA. Prior to that, the Iranian rail industry only imported or assembled locomotives to meet its demands.
One of winning factors of MAP24 locomotive’s design and development was the careful management and planning for the implementation of such a large-scale project for the first time in the country. MAPNA Group divided the design and production stages into five main sections and several sub-sections to accelerate the production process. These five main sections included design and production of the chassis and carbody of the locomotive, the bogies, the power and control system, the power transmission system, and the braking system.
The few technical issues occurring in the production process of MAP24 were properly addressed by MLC. For example, the construction of a three-axle bogie with a 3:5-meter ratio and a weight of five tons was not possible through the common integrated casting method due to operational challenges of the casting process in Iran. Therefore, based on their experience working with other companies and previous projects, MAPNA engineers decided to start building bogies through the welding method and devised a project for making fabricated bogies (sheet metal and welding) instead of casting bogie. MAPNA Group's first boogie was built and tested within 14 months in collaboration with an international consulting firm.
During the development phase, similar technical challenges, including those of electrical and control systems, reached their peak due to the lack of previous background in the construction of such systems; but MAPNA Group, which had gained valuable experience in the construction of locomotive control systems during a parallel project (tunnel locomotive construction), applied those experiences in the MAP24 locomotive project and managed to in designing the AC-DC_DC locomotive control system. The new control system also helped launch the online monitoring system of the MAP24 locomotives.  The system’s software, which was designed by MAPNA Group, relies on the Internet of Things (IoT) to provide engineers with instant access to the information of the locomotive equipment and parts and to improve the maintenance process. The experience gained during those four years can be considered a turning point in the development of MAPNA Locomotive Engineering & Manufacturing Company. Such challenges open the way for creativity and the creation of new experiences for the manufacturer and pave the way for designing and manufacturing various products at a reasonable cost.
The MAP24 locomotive has a 3300-hp engine; 78% of the locomotive’s parts are designed and produced by Iranian experts and are comparable to imported locomotives in terms of quality. The maintenance and repair of the locomotives are also carried out by domestic experts, reducing dependance on foreign force, hence decreasing costs.
Since locomotives are among expensive machineries, such capabilities in production and maintenance provide more privilege to domestic companies active in the rail industry. Another distinguishing feature of MAP24 compared with similar foreign models is the open space design of its operator cabin which provides comfort and convenience for the operator and other crew.
So far, a total of 20 MAP24 locomotives have entered the country's railroads, of which 10 have been delivered to private companies. Five other MAP24 locomotives are currently being produces.
MLC has signed a contract with MAPNA Multimodal Transportation Company for the construction of another 35 MAP24 locomotives, which will be delivered according to the schedules.
The arrival of MAP24 locomotives on the railway tracks is deemed a major step towards the development of domestic production in the rail industry. The advanced locomotives have also contributed to the expansion of the country’s cargo transportation, and in a bigger scope, can help provide the necessary infrastructure for the expansion of the country's rail economy.
 
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