Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on February 1, 2023, announced that India will have its first hydrogen train ready by December this year. Keeping in line with this year’s budget for green growth, Vaishnaw said that the Indian Railway will contribute to this mission via the country’s first hydrogen train which will be designed and manufactured in India by December.
India’s first hydrogen train: Routes that will be taken
The hydrogen train, once ready, will initially run on heritage circuits like Kalka to Shimla. The train route will later be expanded to other places as well. Vaishnaw said that the motive of the train is to show India’s cultural heritage through trains which will also be updated by adding new circuits like the Guru Kripa circuit to the list. This means that these heritage routes will completely go green!
India’s first hydrogen train: What is the technology behind it?
Hydrogen trains, as the name suggests run on hydrogen fuel cells. These are much more environmentally friendly than traditional diesel engines. Hydrogen fuel cells convert hydrogen and oxygen which then produces the electricity that is used to power the train’s motors.
These trains use clean energy transition fuel that does not emit any air pollutants. By clean energy, we mean that hydrogen can be generated using renewable energy sources like wind, solar power, or hydropower. These trains will truly make Indian Railways the face of Green India. The only obstacle as of now in building multiple green hydrogen trains across the country is the massive cost that is required in its making and development. According to the research and ratings agency ICRA, green hydrogen costs around INR 492/kg in India. Due to this, the cost of operating a fuel cell-based hydrogen engine will be 27% higher than that of a diesel engine.
Ashwini Vaishnaw had in January said that Indian Railways is making a prototype of the hydrogen fuel-based train at the Northern Railway workshop which will be test-run on the Sonipat-Jind section in Haryana.
The Finance Minister has allocated a budget of Rs 2.41 lakh crore for the Railways this fiscal which in hindsight is important considering the number and quality of projects that lie ahead of the Indian Railways. Vaishnaw had said that this budget is going to act as a growth engine for the country. Around 1275 stations are being re-developed, along with the upscaling of Vande Bharat production.
Hailing the budget allocation for green India, Gautam Mohanka, Managing Director, Gautam Solar noted that the capital investment of Rs. 35000 crores for achieving energy transition and net zero objective and energy security by Ministry of petroleum and natural gas will help the country’s goal of decreasing the share of fossil fuels and increase the share of renewable energy. Mohanka also noted that the Finance Minister highlighted National Green Hydrogen Mission with outlay of 19000 crore to help achieve annual production target of 5 MMT by 2030 for facilitating the net-zero target. This falls in line with Indian Railways move to roll out India’s first hydrogen train this year.