Railways to replace diesel with natural gas to reduce cost | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Railways to replace diesel with natural gas to reduce cost

The Indian Railways that is reeling under severe financial crises has planned to replace its fuel as a cost-effective move. They are looking at gradually reducing the use of diesel and opting for natural gas – an environment-friendly replacement used in locomotives or engines to haul trains.

mumbai Updated: Sep 17, 2011 01:09 IST
Shashank Rao

The Indian Railways that is reeling under severe financial crises has planned to replace its fuel as a cost-effective move. They are looking at gradually reducing the use of diesel and opting for natural gas – an environment-friendly replacement used in locomotives or engines to haul trains.

The railways have begun the process of converting the diesel electric multiple unit (DEMU) trains to compressed natural gas (CNG)-based trains. Presently the DEMUs, which are slightly different in width and appearance than local trains, run on Virar-Dahanu stretch.

The railways will initially replace the DEMUs in and around Delhi and might introduce them on stretches under the Western Railway. In all, the Indian Railways will introduce 50 CNG-based trains.

In addition to this, the diesel engines would undergo changes, to facilitate them to run on liquefied natural gas (LNG). This would enable these trains to run for at least 6 to 8 hours, which means passenger trains connecting two cities can easily be operated with the help of this engine. However, long-distance trains would continue to run on diesel engines.

Currently, the railways use approximately 250 crore litres of diesel for locomotives annually, which costs them around Rs10000 crore. And with the rising fuel cost, it is becoming increasingly expensive for the railways to run the show.

“We anticipate a drop in fuel expenditure by 30 percent in the long run once this technology is in place. It would cost us around Rs50 lakhs each to make necessary changes in diesel engines,” said a senior railway board official.

These engines would have a separate tank where LNG would be filled in. The railways are expecting it would around two years to make the necessary changes to the engines. Initially, the railways would use LNG at their factories and workshops.