Power Ministry is looking to engage Power Grid Corp (PGCIL) to electrify 1,000 km of rail tracks on a pilot basis, as part of plans to energise 35,000 km of unelectrified lines.
The electrification project will help the government cut down crude imports and also ensure faster movement of trains on these tracks.
In the first phase, the electrification project will cover 16,000 km of busy tracks out of 35,000 km of unelectrified lines in the country. The electrification of tracks will help railways save around Rs 8,000 crore annually.
Indian railways consumes around 2.8 billion litres of diesel annually, costing around Rs 18,000 crore — nearly 18 per cent of its working expenses.
“The Railway Ministry has started work on it (rail electrification). In a small pilot, we will involve PGCIL because we have not done this in the past,” Power Minister Piyush Goyal told PTI.
Goyal further said, “We are discussing that first PGCIL will do a pilot of 1,000 km to assess its capability. Railways has assessed that it is viable for doing electrification of around 16,000 km of tracks.”
However, the diesel consumption on remaining 19,000 km of unelectrified tracks is not much. Thus the investment on electrification of these tracks will not offset savings.
Earlier in March this year, Goyal had announced the government’s plans to electrify 35,000 km tracks by state-owned power companies over a period of three years.
He further said, “We are going to stop production of diesel locomotives that is the decision which Suresh ji (Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu) will take quickly. I hope that it (electrification) would be done in the next three years. I want to do it in three years.”
The minister had also said, “Rs 1 crore per km is the current cost of rail electrification. If we do it in three years, the cost will come down to half. But it cannot be less than 30-35 per cent. The Power Ministry will spend entire money.”
According to the Minister, the electrification of entire rail tracks in the country will lead to power consumption going up by 7 billion units.
Railways, which procures power from distribution companies, spends about Rs 12,300 crore a year to purchase 17.5 billion units of electricity.
On the power front, railways is planning to save Rs 3,000 crore in sourcing electricity by proposing to procure power through competitive bidding.
Besides, the Railways has also rolled out plans to set up 1,000 MW solar power plants at railway lands and rooftops of railway buildings with support from the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy over the next five years.