New Delhi: In a first for Indian Railways, diesel locomotives will soon haul trains by drawing power through overhead wires on an electrified route, with the public transporter embarking upon manufacturing dual-mode engines.
“We will be manufacturing dual-mode locomotives to run trains on diesel and also by drawing power through overhead wire on electrified route,” said a senior railway ministry official involved in the project.
Railways will manufacture five dual-mode locomotives of 4500 horse power (HP) capacity each at Diesel Locomotive Works in Varanasi as a pilot project. Though similar locomotives are operational in the US and South Africa, it will be a first in India, the official said.
Currently, 52 per cent of total trains are on diesel traction. Diesel locomotives are generally replaced by electric engines on electrified route causing delays. “However, with the acquisition of dual-mode locos, there will be no need for changing the locomotive for electric traction as the same diesel engine will be utilized on electrified route,” he said.
A dual-mode locomotive is estimated to cost about Rs 18 crore, while a 4500 HP diesel locomotive costs about Rs 13 crore. The proposal has been forwarded to the Research Design and Standard Design (RDSO), the research wing of Indian Railway, to finalize specifications. “After the RDSO approval, DLW will be manufacturing five such locos on a pilot basis. The locos will be pressed into service on certain electrified routes on a trial basis,” said the official.
The dual-mode locomotive will be heavier than the diesel locomotive and is expected to run at a maximum speed of 135 km per hour. A diesel locomotive is a type of railway locomotive in which the prime mover is a diesel engine, while in an electric locomotive, the engine moves on power drawn through a pantograph mounted on the roof of the train. Pantograph is an apparatus mounted on the roof of an electric train, tram or electric bus to collect power through contact with an overhead wire.
With modern electronics, it is much easier to construct (or adapt) an electro-diesel locomotive or multiple-unit which is equally at home running at high speeds both “under the wires” and under diesel power (e.g. SNCF Class B 82500). These will normally operate under pure electric traction where possible, and use the diesel engines to extend the journeys along non-electrified sections which would not be cost effective to electrify. They may also be used on long cross-country routes to take advantage of shorter sections of electrified main lines.