Rlys plan energy overhaul to put spends on track

New Delhi, Jan 22 | Updated: Jan 23 2007, 05:30am hrs
After scripting a turnaround, the railways are now looking to achieve a similar breakthrough in its energy management policy by cutting down on its energy bill. Speaking at a conference on Energy Efficient Electrical System in Rail Sector, Ramesh Chandra, member (electrical) of the railway board said, We are trying to bring about energy efficiency in our system using a four-pronged approach, which will include electrification of more routes, improving our technology as well as setting up a captive power plant.

The issue gains importance as the railways spend about Rs 6,400 crore annually on its energy requirements, of which about Rs 5,500 crore is spent on electricity alone.Chandra said setting up a captive power plant at Nabinagar in Bihar was top of the railways agenda. The Rs 5,000-crore plant will be set up as a joint venture with National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC)the railways will have a 26% equity. Sources said a Cabinet note for this had already been circulated and the railways were hopeful of getting approval in the next few weeks.The plant will help the railways save as much as Rs 300 crore annually by supplying electricity at about Rs 3.20 per unit. Currently, the railways procure electricity at Rs 4.20 per unit and in Gujarat and Maharashtra the costs run up to about Rs 4.90 per unit.

Electrification of more tracks is another key part of the strategy. We are planning to electrify about 3,600 km of tracks during the Eleventh Plan period, which will be double of what we did during the Tenth Plan period, Chandra said.

The railways are also planning to improve the productivity of its assets for achieving better energy efficiency. For this, it is planning to run longer passenger trains as well as increase its freight loading capacity.It was also working to adopt intelligent energy options such as AC-DC conversions.

Emphasising the need to explore energy efficient systems, railway minister Lalu Prasad said in a message that apart from meeting the demands of passenger and freight traffic, energy-efficient systems would also help in construction of dedicated freight corridors and its feeder routes.