Solar-powered trains could be a money-spinner

One of the Solar Powered Environment friendly DEMU trains at the Safdarjung railway station in New Delhi.
One of the Solar Powered Environment friendly DEMU trains at the Safdarjung railway station in New Delhi.

New Delhi - The entire electrical needs of the train will be sourced from solar panels fitted on the roof of coaches.



By C P Surendran

Published: Tue 18 Jul 2017, 9:00 PM

Last updated: Wed 19 Jul 2017, 12:02 AM

India is moving full steam into the solar powered phase in the near future, according to  Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu.
The entire electrical needs of the train will be sourced from solar panels fitted on the roof of coaches.
A ministry press release said: "The first rake has been commissioned, and would be based at Shakurbasti DEMU (Diesel Electric Multiple Unit) shed in Delhi, Northern Railways."
Twenty-four more coaches will be fitted with this system within the next six months. According to the ministry: "The first rake will be put in commercial service over the suburban railway system of the Delhi division of Northern Railway." More specifically, the solar-powered train will be tested on the Jodhpur division of the North Western Railways.
A solar-powered train with six trailer-coaches will save about 21,000 liters of diesel. This would be a gain for the railways Rs1.2 million every year. Each coach will have 12 solar panels.
Last year, Northern Railways had fitted one coach of the Rewari-Sitapur broad gauge passenger train with solar panels on an experimental basis that worked.
What is now proposed is the first DEMU (Diesel Electric Multiple Unit) broad gauge train fully run on solar power.
According to a Railways spokesperson solar panel fitted coaches already run on narrow-gauge on Pathankot-Jogindernagar route in Kangra Valley section and Kalka-Shimla section. But these are tiny trains which resemble toys.
According to a report in Financial Express, "each solar panel will generate 300 watt of electricity, which means 3.6KW of power per coach." This should take care of power for lights and fans inside the coach. But these panels will not be enough to run air-conditioners. 
A spokesperson for the ministry was quoted as saying in the newspaper: "We will begin trials of this solar-panel fitted train shortly. We are awaiting some final clearances. After intensive trials, we will be able to gauge the performance of the solar panels. Only then any decision on scaling up the scope of the solar panels can be taken to see if the air conditioning too could be run on solar energy."
Last year, the  Railways had introduced India's first CNG DEMU, - "dual fuel system." of CNG and diesel - train on the Rewari-Rohtak section of Northern Railways. The train was put together by Integral Coach Factory at Chennai.


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