The Railways aims to become self-sustainable in energy. It has 2,300 megawatt thermal plants in the pipeline while plans are afoot to have a 1,400 MW nuclear power plant and generate about 175 MW from wind energy. These projects will reduce the Indian Railways electricity bill substantially, says Kul Bhushan, member-electrical, Railway Board, who spoke to FE’s Rajat Arora this week. Excerpts from the interview:
The Railways fuel bill stands at 21,000 crore, which is about 25% of the total expenditure. What efforts are being made to reduce the fuel bill?
We have a target of electrifying 6,500 route km in the 12th Plan. Now we have around 24,000 route km electrified. We have 40% of our passenger traffic and 65% of freight traffic on electrified routes. The cost of running a diesel train is three times more than an electric train. Last year, our electricity bill was around Rs 8,300 crore and we are working hard to reduce this. We want the Railways to be an energy-efficient transporter.
How will you reduce the electricity bill?
This year, we’ll consume around 17 billion units of electricity. At present, we get electricity from state electric boards (SEBs) at an average price of Rs 5.8 per unit. We have two thermal power plants in partnership with NTPC, with a combined capacity of around 2,300 MW. The 1,000 MW plant in Nabi Nagar, Bihar, will become operational by July 2014 (250 MW) and fully operational by 2015. The 1,300 MW plant in Adhra,West Bengal, is waiting to get coal block linkage. Once we start getting power from these plants, the cost of electricity per unit would be around Rs 3.5 per unit. This will reduce our electricity bill substantially. Then we are also in the preliminary stage of planning a 1,400 MW nuclear power project in collaboration with the Nuclear Power Corporation.The sites are being explored. We have recently constituted Railway Electric Management Company, a joint venture with RITES, which has been given the mandate of coming out with innovative solutions for using energy efficiently. The wheeling charges of power are high, we are planning our