Railways targets full Electrification with Rs 35,000-crore plan

NEW DELHI: Indian Railways has prepared a Rs 35,000 crore plan to electrify its entire network in the next four years, a move that will help save Rs 10,500 crore a year in fuel bill.

The cost works out to be slightly more than Rs 1 crore per kilometre over parts of the 66,000-km network yet to be electrified, a senior Railway Board official told. “We will be funding it through our own resources,” the official said on condition of anonymity. So far, nearly half of the railway tracks in the country have been electrified. But these tracks account for 55% of coaches and 65% of freight traffic at just about 35% of railways’ total fuel bill.

“We are going for 100% electrification by 2021. This will reduce the energy bill from Rs 26,500 crore currently to about Rs 16,000 crore,” the official said. Railways ministry will involve state-run IRCON, RITES and PGCIL, along with several private companies to implement the 100% electrification plan, the official said.

To speed up the electrification process and wrap it up by 2021, Indian Railways is organising a conference on Friday. Railways minister Piyush Goyal will address the event, which will see participation from many global companies. To further bring down its energy bill, railways also plans to start procuring electricity directly from producers instead of distribution companies.

This will help the national transporter save an additional Rs 2,500 crore a year. Indian Railways consumes about 15.6 billion units of electricity every year and foots a power bill of Rs 9,500 crore. It pays almost Rs 17,000 crore a year in diesel bill. The railways would need nearly 5,000 more electric locomotives in the next five years to move all trains on electric traction. It has about 4,400 electric locomotives at present and is able to add only 250 every year.

“We will be able to meet the demand of electric locomotives once the Alstom plant being set up in Bihar becomes operational. Also, we are ramping up electric loco production in our own factories,” the official said. Railways will double its electric loco manufacturing in Varanasi and Chittaranjan Locomotive Works in West Bengal. Additional requirement would be fulfilled through the Alstom plant.

“The Alstom plant in Madhepura will start production early next year. The first car body shell has already arrived and will soon be fitted and assembled,” said Alstom’s senior vice president for Asia Pacific, Jean-Francois Beaudoin. The project is on time and would be able to meet the requirement of the railways as planned, he said. The first locomotive will be ready for rollout early next year, Beaudoin said.