The LHB coaches, which are now being introduced by Indian Railways across its network, are safer than the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) designed coaches due to various features. Compared to ICF designed coaches, LHB coaches are lighter and are useful for semi-high speed trains.
Smart move, Indian Railways! In a bid to draw power from overhead lines for electrical appliances in Linke Hoffman Busche (LHB) coaches, the Southern Railway zone of the national transporter has implemented a technology. According to officials quoted in a TOI report, the move incorporated in as many as 23 rakes, has resulted in savings of nearly Rs 1 crore per month on fuel alone. The LHB coaches, which are now being introduced by Indian Railways across its network, are safer than the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) designed coaches due to various features. Compared to ICF designed coaches, LHB coaches are lighter and are useful for semi-high speed trains. However, LHB coaches, unlike ICF coaches, do not have an alternator which generates electricity in order to power the electrical appliances as the train moves.
According to officials quoted in the report, there are one or two power cars at the end of every train in every LHB rake where the electricity meant for coaches is produced in a diesel generator, known as End on Generation (EOG). They further informed that for a 15-hour journey, 1800 litres of diesel is burnt and 30-40 litres of diesel is consumed by an air-conditioned coach per hour.
In an attempt to go greener and also given the fact that electricity is cheaper, the national transporter has started modifying electric engines in order to use electricity from overhead lines for running appliances in LHB coaches, known as Head-On-Generation (HOG).
As per calculations by Indian Railways, the power car needs 40 litres of diesel per hour per non-AC coach while an AC coach needs 65-70 litres of diesel per hour. Around three units of electricity is provided by one litre of diesel, so a non-AC coach uses around 120 units of electricity per hour. At the rate of Rs 70 per litre, this costs Rs 2800 per hour. At the rate of around Rs 7 per unit, the Southern Railway zone gets electricity from Tangedco. So the expenditure in a non-AC coach on electricity is Rs 840 per hour, which is far cheaper than using diesel in the power car.
An official, however, said that the disadvantage is that the power cars cannot be eliminated as not all sections are electrified. He further added that the national transporter is aiming for 100 per cent electrification and if HOG is brought in all electric locomotives, there will be significant savings.