Indian Railways speeds up plans to shift towards Gas-fuelled Locomotives

Indian Railway Organisation for Alternate Fuels (IROAF) has issued a tender for conversion of 30 Diesel Power Cars (DPCs) to run on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) this year.

NEW DELHI: Indian Railways, India’s state-run transporter, has speeded up plans to shift towards gas-fuelled locomotives. This is part of a larger plan by the railways, that pays an energy bill of around Rs 30,000 crore per annum, to save Rs 41,000 crore on energy use over the next decade.

With the objective of reducing energy bill as well as carbon footprint, the national carrier has deployed the Indian Railway Organisation for Alternate Fuels (IROAF) to seek alternate modes of traction. IROAF has issued a tender for conversion of 30 Diesel Power Cars (DPCs) to run on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) this year.

“We have issued a tender for 30 DPC conversion in March 2017. We are using Diesel Electric Multiple Unit (DEMU) DPCs for this and not mainline locomotives. DPCs are mini locomotives of around 1,400 HP,” Ravinder Gupta, Chief Administrative Officer, IROAF told.

Gupta said the railways currently has 17 functional CNG DPCs. “There are 17 CNG DPCs which were converted and are in service. In these systems, 20 per cent high speed diesel is substituted by CNG. In actual running conditions we have saved about 8 per cent on fuel costs. As a next step, we are trying to bring in the technology for giving us substitution of up to 40 per cent,” Gupta said.

Indian Railways began the use of CNG as a fuel in Diesel Electric Multiple Units (DEMU) in January 2015 with the introduction of dual fuel system powered DEMU between Rewari and Rohtak which runs on both CNG and diesel. In addition, IROAF is also experimenting on DEMUs fuelled by liquefied natural gas (LNG).

“We are planning to run DEMUs on LNG. We will experiment on 10 DEMUs. We have opened the tender for this in March and we are in the process of evaluating it and hope to finalise contracts in two to three months,” Gupta said. Railways had earlier turned down plans to procure turbine locomotives that can run on LNG, citing safety concerns.

“Indian railways was making an LNG locomotive but the locomotive needed a trailer with an LNG tank for storage and efforts have not been successful as yet. The safety standards for LNG locomotives have not been made yet and are currently under development in USA. After that is done, we will also develop ours,” Gupta added.

Under the Rs 41,000 crore energy saving mission, railways aims to double electrification works done in the last decade. Indian Railways has also set a target of 1,000 megawatt (MW) of solar power and 200 MW of wind energy capacity addition in its portfolio.