India looks to its railways to hit environmental targets

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Photo: Lisa-Lisa / Shutterstock.com.

India is to almost double the length of its electrified rail network over the next few years in an effort to help the country meet environmental commitments set by the Paris climate agreement.

India, one of the biggest producers of green house gases, has pledged to reduce its carbon emissions by 33-35 per cent by 2030.

Electrification of the railway will play a crucial role in that, said Minister of Railways Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu, speaking at the International Conference on Decarbonisation of Indian Railways – Mission Electrification.

In the coming years the rate of electrification will be accelerated, said Prabhu. A further 24,000 kilometres of railway will be electrified which, once completed, will mean around 90 per cent of India’s railways will be electrified.

According to figures released by India’s Press Information Bureau, the pace of electrification has already increased, with 1,600 route kilometres of railway electrified in the last year compared to an average of 800 kilometres in previous years.

Indian Railways also plans to produce more green energy, increasing the role of solar and wind power sources. Currently the railway consumes more than 2 per cent of India’s energy output – this figure is predicted to triple by 2030.

The production and introduction of more efficient electric rolling stock is one way in which Indian Railways is hoping to curb its energy demand.

Indian Railways has also begun implementing what it calls Head on Generation (HOG) – a system whereby a train’s onboard electrical systems are powered by the overhead catenary rather than a diesel power car.

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