NEW DELHI: During question time in India’s Rajya Sabha (Council of States), it was made clear by the Ministry of Railways that progress is being made to reduce use of diesel fuel and increase energy/fuel efficiency in its operation system. Representatives were updated on conversions of Diesel Electric Multiple Units (DEMU) to natural gas.
Integral Coach Factory, Chennai, a production unit of Indian Railways, flagged off the first compressed natural gas (CNG) -fuelled DEMU in September 2014. There are now approximately 23 units that have been converted to dual-fuel operation with CNG replacing 20% of diesel fuel and saving about 8% fuel costs. The Indian Railway Organisation for Alternate Fuels (IROAF) issued a tender in March 2017 for conversion of 30 DEMU Diesel Power Cars (DPCs) to run on CNG this year. Prior to the tender, 17 conversions had been completed.
IROAF is developing technology with the intention of raising diesel substitution from 20% to 40%.
Indian Railways is also investigating the application of liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a locomotive fuel as part of a major energy shift to natural gas planned by the Indian Government. The country reportedly plans to raise the share of natural gas in its energy mix to 15 percent by 2022 from the current 6.5 percent.