Railways minister Suresh Prabhu’s “green energy” plans are beginning to take shape, with the country’s first Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)-powered train having successfully cleared trials and ready for inauguration.
Two sets of the “dual fuel” trains manufactured by Chennai-based Integral Coach Factory (ICF) — which will use 20% fuel in the form of CNG — have arrived and will be used in the Diesel Electric Multiple Unit (DEMU) trains on Delhi-Rohtak- Rewari section, sources said.
An advanced version on the alternative fuel locomotives —which will be able to use 60% fuel in CNG form — is presently undergoing trials.
“The CNG locos – which will gradually get extended to 500 DEMU trains — will eventually provide for a platform for conversion to the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) locomotives — trials on which are being conducted at the Patiala-based Diesel Mechanical Works (DMW).
With oil prices being much higher than natural gas, experiments on running LNG-powered locomotives are being conducted world-wide, with reports indicating that such locomotives will be in use on US railroads by 2016.
Green energy plans have been central to the Modi government’s agenda as there have been concerns about spiralling fuel costs.
Annually consuming 2.6 billion litres to run its inventory of 5,500 diesel locomotives, the railways runs up a diesel bill of approximately `10,000 crore each year.