The Central Organisation for Railway Electrification (CORE), (Hindi: केन्द्रीय रेल विद्युतीकरण संगठन) has its headquarters at Allahabad, India. It is in overall charge of railway electrification over the entire network of Indian Railways. However of late, some electrification works have been entrusted to Rail Vikas Nigam Limited, a Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) under the Ministry of Railways of the Government of India. Additionally small electrification works are being done by zonal railways. The organisation has been functioning since 1961 and is headed by a General Manager. Projects units operate from Ambala, Bhubaneshwar, Chennai, Bangalore, Secunderabad, Lucknow, Kota, Kolkata Gorakhpur and New Jalpaiguri.
1500 volt DC: Railway electrification began with the inauguration of the first electric train between Bombay Victoria Terminus and Kurla Harbour on 3 February 1925 on the then existing Great Indian Peninsula Railway (GIP) at 1500 V DC. Heavy gradients on the Western Ghats necessitated the introduction of electric traction on the Central Railway up to Igatpuri on the North East line and to Pune on the South East line. 1500 volt DC traction was introduced on the suburban section of the Western Railway between Colaba and Borivili on 5 January 1928 and between Madras Beach and Tambaram of the Southern Railway on 11 May 1931. This was primarily to meet the growing traffic on these metros. Thus, before the dawn of Independence, India had 388 km of electrification on DC traction. Only the stretch from Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus – Kalyan and Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus – Panvel of Central Railway is still under DC traction after the conversion of Churchgate – Andheri stretch of Western Railway to 25 kV AC on February 5, 2012.
3000 volt DC: In the post independence era, electrification of the Howrah-Burdwan section of the Eastern Railway was done at 3000 volt DC during the First Five Year Plan period and completed in 1958. The electric multiple unit (EMU) services were inaugurated in Howrah-Sheoraphuli section by Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India on 14 December 1957.
25 kv AC: The 25 kV AC system of traction emerged as an economical system of electrification as a result of research and trials in Europe, particularly on French Railways (SNCF). Indian Railways decided in 1957 to adopt the 25 kV AC system of electrification as a standard, with SNCF as their consultant in the initial stages.
In the wake of industrial development in the Eastern region (due to the setting up of steel plants, large-scale movement of iron and coal, and growth in freight traffic that could not be managed by steam traction) electrification and dieselisation had to be introduced in early 1960s to cope up with the growing traffic.
The first section electrified on the 25 kV AC system was Raj Kharswan — Dongoaposi on the South Eastern Railway in 1960. With a view to provide continuity of traction system, the Howrah — Burdwan section of the Eastern Railway and Madras Beach — Tambaram section of the Southern Railway were converted to the 25 kV AC system by 1968.
The manufacture of electric multiple units (EMUs) required for Kolkata suburban services was taken up at Integral Coach Factory (ICF), Chennai and the first EMU rolled out during September 1962.
Conversion: Considering the limitations in the existing 1500 volt DC traction system in the Central Railway and Western Railway, a decision was taken to convert to 25 kV AC traction during 1996-97. Conversion from DC traction to AC traction is in progress.
The electrification office was set up in Calcutta as PORE (Project Office for Railway Electrification) during the First Five Year Plan period, when electrification of the Howrah — Burdwan section of the Eastern Railway was taken up.
A General Manager headed the Railway Electrification Organisation set up at Calcutta in 1959. In 1961, the Northern Railway electrification office was set up at Allahabad for the electrification of the Mughalsarai — New Delhi section. This office was headed by an Engineer-in-Chief.
On the recommendation of the J.Raj Committee report in 1978, a number of electrification works were included in the Pink Book, and a Railway Electrification headquarters came into being. Since most of the sanctioned electrification works were falling in the Central and Southern regions of the country, the headquarters of electrification was set up at Nagpur and functioned under the charge of an Additional General Manager from 1982 to 1984. The Railway Electrification office was shifted to Allahabad under the Additional General Manager from January 1985. A regular General Manager was posted at the Central Organisation for Railway Electrification, Allahabad from July 1987 onwards and this continues today.
The Headquarters office of the Central Organisation for Railway Electrification (CORE) is headed by a General Manager and assisted by Electrical, Signal and Telecommunications (S&T), Civil, Store, Personnel, Vigilance and Finance departments. Presently eight Railway Electrification project offices are functioning i.e. Ambala, Bhubaneswar, Chennai, Lucknow, Kota and Secunderabad, Gorakhpur, Hajipur and New Jalpaiguri headed by Chief Project Managers.
Planwise progress of electrification on IR
In the wake of industrial development in the Eastern region, electrification and dieselisation had to be introduced in the early 1960s to cope with the growing traffic. After the completion of the second Five Year Plan, Indian Railways had electrified 216 route-kilometres (rkm) on 25 kV AC. During the Third Plan, along with considerable indigenisation, electrification was extended over another 1,678 rkm. The pace of electrification, however, slowed down until the oil crisis of the 1970s. The second oil crisis, in particular, brought to the fore the need for evolving a long term policy for electrification to reduce the dependence of railways on petroleum based energy.
In the context of a shift from petroleum based energy in the transport sector, the Secretaries Committee on energy headed by the Cabinet Secretary decided in July 1980 that the railways should speed up electrification at a pace of 1,000 route km/year. Accordingly, the pace of electrification was considerably speeded up and Indian Railways achieved progress of 2,812 rkm during the 7th Plan, 2,708 rkm during 8th Plan and 2,484 rkm during 9th Plan making a total of 16,001 rkm. In the 10th Plan, electrification of 1,810 rkm was achieved, more than the target of 1,800 rkm. In the recently concluded 11th Plan (2007–12) electrification of 4,556 rkm was achieved, more than the target of 4,500 rkm.
Six major trunk routes of the Golden Quadrilateral and diagonals i.e. Delhi — Mumbai via Central and Western Railways, Delhi — Chennai, Mumbai — Calcutta and Howrah—Chennai have already been fully electrified. Electrification of remaining Mumbai — Chennai Route (Nandalur — Pune) is in progress.
A total of 23,541 rkm was electrified by 31 March 2013, mostly on heavy density routes. This constitutes about 35.94% of the total railway network. At present, approximately 51% of passenger traffic and 64.3% of freight traffic is operated by electric traction. The 11th Plan target for electrification is set at above 4,500 rkm and the target to be realized during 2007-12 is 4,556 rkm.
Modernisation of Equipment
With a view to bring down the maintenance cost and improve the reliability of power supply system, Railway Electrification has gone in for state-for-the-art technology as prevalent in the international arena viz., dry cast resin transformers, SF6 or vacuum switchgear, long creep age solid core insulators and PTFE neutral sections. Eight-wheeler self-propelled OHE inspection cars have also been introduced to improve maintenance. Action has also been initiated for the procurement of an OHE recording car for monitoring the performance of overhead equipment.
Signalling and telecommunication systems are also being upgraded by adopting state-of-the-art technology. The semaphore signalling system is being replaced by a colour light signalling system. Use of colour light signals results in better visibility of signalling aspects to the drivers of the running trains and this makes train running safer and operationally more efficient. The interlocking system is also being changed to panel or route relay interlocking. Besides speedier movement of traffic, these up-gradation measures contribute towards increased safely.
Underground cables are provided along with electrification for more reliable and better quality communication.
Supervisory Remote Control & Data Acquisition System (SCADA)
The 220 / 132 / 25 KV power supply network for electrification extends along the track over a zone of about 200/300 km. It is centrally controlled from the division control center through remote control arrangements to ensure un-interrupted power supply to the track overhead equipment. In the present day electrification projects, a state-of-the-art microprocessor based supervisory control and data acquisition system (SCADA) is being provided as against the earlier electro-mechanical Strowger system of remote control equipment. The SCADA system has facilities for tele-metering of voltage, current, maximum demand and power factor on a real-time basis, enabling control of maximum demand and thereby the charges thereof to be paid to the State Electricity Boards[disambiguation needed]. In addition, this system provides for automatic trouble-shooting and isolation of faulty sections.
2 x 25 KV System
Indian Railways have introduced 2 x 25 KV Autotransformer Feeding System of power supply on Bina-Katni-Anuppur-Bishrampur/Chirimiri coal route of West Central Railway and South East Central Railway as distinct from the present conventional 25 KV AC system. With this system the advantage of high voltage transmission, i.e. 50 KV is realized permitting at the same time inter-running of standard 25 KV electric locomotives. This is achieved by an additional power conductor on top of the overhead equipment and the mast with 50 KV being obtained between the overhead equipment and the feeder. In addition, use of return conductor and booster transformers is eliminated completely.
This pilot project was executed with the technical guidance from Japanese Railways Technical Services (JARTS). This 2 x 25 KV traction system is already in vogue on the TGV of France and Shinkansen of Japan.
Electric Rolling Stock
As of 31st March 2012 total number of electric locomotive is 4,309. As part of the modernization plan, Indian Railways imported eighteen 6,000 horsepower thyristor locomotives, with transfer of technology. They are now going to be produced at Chittaranjan Locomotive Works (CLW). Indian Railways have developed chopper technology for DC electric multiple units in collaboration with Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) and 20 motor coaches with this technology will be inducted in service in the next year progressively. The chopper technology, in addition to being less maintenance intensive, is expected to save energy by 30% to 34% in the suburban services.
Signalling and telecommunication
Optical Fibre Communication
Indian Railway have gone in for modern communication technology and are using optical fibre cable. As on 31st March 2012, 40,332 Route Kilometers of Optical Fibre Cable has been commissioned that is carrying Gigabits of traffic. Railway Control Communication which is quintessential for train operation and control is also being transferred to OFC system. Till date control communication on 37,389 Route Kilometers has been shifted on OFC system. This cable is free from copper and is, therefore, not prone to theft. It provides superior quality of communication with built in large number of telephone channels to meet future needs of train operation and safety. 2,572 kilometers of optical fibre communication system have been commissioned on the Nagpur-Itarsi, Nagpur-Durg, Itarsi-Bhusawal, Jhajha-Mokama, Tori-Gumia, Ambala-Saharanpur, Adra-Midnapur,VSKP-Golanthra,Shoranur-Ernakulam,Tata-Chakradharpur, Delhi and Bombay area sections as part of railway electrification, so far.
Indian Railways has also taken a policy decision that in future, along with railway electrification, they will lay 24-core fibre optic cable. They have also started making efforts for the commercial exploitation of their existing communication infrastructure and to exploit their “right of way” along the tracks by private parties laying their optical fibre cables.
Train Radio Communication
Optical fibre technology has come in handy for introducing mobile communication from running trains and this was successfully introduced along with electrification. With this technology, the driver and guard can talk to each other, and to the control centre, from a moving train. This will be especially useful in an emergency, such as an accident.