In its mission to make the entire rail network of the country run on electric traction and shun diesel-based trains, Indian Railways has completed an important milestone Tuesday, 21 February 2023 by electrifying all routes in Uttar Pradesh, even as it embarks on a journey to become a ‘Net Zero Carbon Emission’ railway system in another seven years.
With the electrification of the roughly 85-km Shubhagpur-Pachperwa section in Gorakhpur-based North Eastern Railway, the entire state’s railway lines now stand electrified. With this, the zone joined the East Coast Railway, North Central Railway, West Central Railway, Eastern Railway and South Eastern Railway, which stand completely electrified. Working on a target of 100 per cent electrification of all broad gauge routes, the railways has so far achieved around 85 per cent progress.
It also has plans to shift to renewables in line with India’s global commitment to renewable energy as part of various international “climate” negotiations. The projected energy demand of the Indian Railways in 2029-30 is expected to be about 8,200 megawatts (MW). To achieve Net Zero Carbon Emission, the expected requirement of renewable capacity by 2029-30 would be about 30,000 MW, officials explained.
So far, about 143 MW of solar plants (both on rooftops and land) and about 103 MW of wind power plants have been commissioned. In addition, about 2,150 MW of renewable energy capacity has also been tied up, as per official data.
A few years ago, railway engineers also toyed with the idea of solar-powered trains. However, the findings indicated that solar power works only during the day and can generate battery backup of approximately four to five hours only. It was also found that the system does not work properly during fog/rain and in winter season, and battery backup goes down to two to three hours depending upon weather conditions. Hence, the project was not pursued further.
However, the railways will continue to maintain a fleet of around 2,000 diesel locomotives for contingencies and other needs.