Indian Railways today launched a solar-powered train service from Safdarjung station in Delhi. The train will be used on the 20km route between there and Farukh Nagar to the southwest.
Six coaches on the diesel-electric hybrid train are fitted with 16 Indian-made solar panels connected to a battery that can power the train for 72 hours.
About 50 such coaches are to be brought into service in the next few days. Initially they will be used on commuter routes but later they will be used for long-distance services as well.
Indian Railways plans to install 1GW of solar and 130MW of wind generating capacity over the next five years, half of which will be used to power train stations and half to power trains.
The state-owned rail operator first began fitting panels to its coaches in 2015 but they were used to power lights and air-conditioning. Trials of solar-driven trains began last year.
So far the company has signed power purchase agreements for about 250MW of solar for electrified rails, mainly from utility-scale farms such as the 50MW Rewa Ultra Mega Solar in Madhya Pradesh.
A further 16MW has been installed on administrative buildings, according to the company’s 2016/17 environmental report.
Ravinder Gupta, the chief executive of Indian Railways Organisation for Alternative Fuel, commented that the plans would save Indian Railways about $110m a year when they were fully implemented.
Other measures to make Indian Railways’ vast property estate more sustainable include a switch to LED lighting, rainwater harvesting and the planting of 50 million trees.
Image: A train fitted with solar panels undergoing tests near Jodhpur last year (YouTube)