In an environment-friendly step towards future travel, Indian Railways is planning to convert several of its diesel locomotives into electric ones. What makes this project even more special is that this conversion will happen completely under the Make in India project. The national transporter is likely to convert all those diesel locomotives among its 5,500 fleet which have been operated for 18 years (mid-life) into electrical locomotives. Ghanshyam Singh, Member (Traction) Railway Board recently said that the conversion of diesel locomotives into electrical locomotives would cost the national transporter Rs 2 crore per engine while their mid-term rehabilitation after 18 years costs around Rs 5 crore. These locomotives will have 5,000 horsepower and will be less polluting and more efficient, involving brand new technology, he said.
Singh further mentioned that while two such locomotives have been already converted into electrical locomotives at the Diesel Locomotive Works (DLW), a production unit of the Indian Railways in Varanasi, another two locomotives are in the process of being converted. Nearly 100 locomotives are expected to reach the 18-year mark, this year. Engineers from DLW, Research Designs and Standards Organisation (RDSO), Chittaranjan Locomotive Works (CLW) as well as Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) worked on the project together. The national transporter plans to complete electrification of its broad-gauge network by the year 2021-22. Also, the railways will run freight trains in dedicated freight corridors on electricity. Earlier this year, a world record was created by Indian Railways in which DLW converted one unit of a WAGC3-class diesel locomotive in a record time of 69 days.
On the other hand, the 1,000 diesel-electric locomotives, which are to be delivered by General Electric (GE) will be used for “disaster management and strategic needs”, Ghanshyam Singh said.
Meanwhile, while speaking about the electrification of Indian Railways, Singh said that by the year 2021-22, when railways achieves 100 per cent electrification of its network, the average speeds of trains will increase by 10-15 per cent. With the entire network of Indian Railways being electrified through and through, it will increase the average speed of trains as well as cut down travel time. He believes that not only the speed of trains will increase by 10-15 per cent with electrification but also line capacity by the same amount. He further added that while 29,000 kms have already been commissioned, 13,000 kms more were approved, adding that work is underway in 20,000 kms of route.