With Indian Railways aggressively focusing on renewable energy, India’s first solar panel-fitted train is all set to commence trial runs shortly. What makes this trial run special is that all coaches of the train would be lit from power generated by the rooftop solar panels.
Last year, Northern Railways had fitted one coach of the Rewari-Sitapur broad gauge passenger train with solar panels. However, this would be the first DEMU (Diesel Electric Multiple Unit) broad gauge train, in which all coaches have solar panels, says Railways. Solar panel fitted coaches already run on narrow-gauge trains plying on Pathankot-Jogindernagar route in Kangra Valley section and Kalka-Shimla section.
The solar-panel powered train will be tested on the Jodhpur division of the North Western Railways. The DEMU train which is being used for the trial run has six coaches, with each coach fitted with twelve solar panels.
Each solar panel will generate 300 watt of electricity, which means 3.6KW of power per coach. This, the Indian Railways says will be enough to provide electricity for lights and fans inside the coach. However, enough power would not be generated to run air-conditioners. (Don’t miss out! Stunning images of Talgo high-speed trains for Delhi-Mumbai route)
Is Railways planning to run ACs on solar power in future? That remains to be seen, says Tarun Jain, the Chief Public Relations Officer of North Western Railways. “We will begin trials of this solar-panel fitted train shortly. We are awaiting some final clearances. After intensive trials, we will be able to gauge the performance of the solar panels. Only then any decision on scaling up the scope of the solar panels can be taken,” Jain told FE Online.
The solar train is not the only green initiative taken by the Indian Railways. Last year, Indian Railways had introduced India’s first CNG DEMU train on the Rewari-Rohtak section of Northern Railways. The DEMU train runs on dual fuel system – CNG and diesel. Railways have modified the 1,400 HP engine to run on dual fuel – diesel and CNG – through fumigation technology.
The train comprising of two power cars and six car coaches has been manufactured by Integral Coach Factory at Chennai with the CNG conversion kit being supplied by Cummins. (Also check: Railways goes innovative with automatic track laying machines for the first time)
Also, a 1 megawatt solar power plant was set up at Katra station in 2015, a move that can save up to Rs 1 crore annually on energy bills. This is the biggest rooftop solar plant built in Jammu and Kashmir and the largest solar power plant built by Indian Railways.