The Railways on Friday launched the country’s first solar-powered local train here with a battery bank facility that ensures sufficient power even in the absence of sunlight.
The entire electrical need of the coaches, which includes lights, fans and information display system, will be met by the energy produced by solar panels fitted atop the coaches of the DEMU (diesel electric multiple unit) train.
Speaking at the launch at the Safdarjung railway station, Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said it was a “path-breaking leap” towards making trains more environment-friendly.
Referring to the Railways commitment to using cleaner fuels, Mr. Prabhu said it was trying to increase the use of non-conventional sources of energy.
Also, the carrier is taking on several other environment-friendly measures like using bio-toilets, water-recycling, waste disposal, CNG and LNG, and harnessing wind energy.
Normally, DEMU trains — a multiple-unit train powered by on-board engines without a separate locomotive — provide power for its passenger comfort system, i.e. lights and fans, from a diesel-driven generator.
Route to be planned soon
The first rake of the train will be put in commercial service over the suburban railway system of Delhi division shortly. A route will be decided soon, said officials.
While the 1,600 horsepower train has been manufactured at the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) in Chennai, its solar system and panels have been developed and fitted by the Indian Railways Organization of Alternative Fuel (IROAF). Twenty-four more coaches will be fitted with this system within six months.
The IROAF has developed this system with a smart inverter, which optimises power generation on a moving train to cater to full load even during night hours with the help of a battery bank that ensures sufficient electricity.
The system reduces diesel consumption and the carbon signature of these commuter trains by reducing carbon dioxide generation by 9 tonnes per coach per year.
A solar-powered DEMU train with six trailer coaches will save about 21,000 litres of diesel, thereby saving ₹12 lakh every year, the Railways added.