With a goal to drastically reduce the cost of energy and greenhouse emissions in the Indian railway network, the Ministry of Railways has announced an action plan to see around 4,000 more kilometers of railways in the country operate on electricity instead of diesel fuel. This target of 4,000 km is a huge leap from last year’s target of 2,000 km.
Diesel currently takes up Rs.20,000 crore of the Rs.32,000 Railways Energy Bill annually. This could be drastically reduced, resulting in huge savings. Not only will the move, if implemented, save an estimated Rs.10,000 crore, it will also drastically reduce greenhouse emissions on a national level.
The Budget currently includes a total of 93 railway electrification projects which have been in the pipeline for the last 3 years (2014-2017). A total of 16,815 route kilometers are to be electrified at a total estimated cost of Rs.17,165 crore. Currently, only 42% of the total Indian railway track network operates on an electrical grid, with the majority of trains still running on diesel fuel.
An anonymous official at the Ministry of Railways stated that, “The pace of electrification has been increased from present average of 1700 km route per annum to 4000 km in 2017-18.” The official also stated that “various” steps are being actioned including the implementation of better project monitoring mechanisms and the awarding of turn-key contracts. Newer agencies such as the Indian Railway Construction Company, Rail India Technical and Economic Services, and Power Grid Corporation of India are being awarded electrification contracts, as the Ministry has increased the number of executing agencies.
The Indian Railways also plan to implement the Solar Mission of Railways plan which will supply around 1,000 MW of power to the railway system through renewable solar energy.