by Peerzada Arshad Hamid
NEW DELHI, July 20 (Xinhua) -- To cut down the use of diesel, Indian railways has inducted first solar-panelled train in an effort to run country's vast rail network on clean energy, officials said Thursday.
The solar-powered local train fully suffices its electric needs using solar energy.
"The entire electrical need of the coaches for lighting, fans and information display system is met from the solar energy produced from the solar panels fitted in the roofs of coaches," an official said.
The first 1600 HP Diesel Electric Multiple Unit (DEMU) train with solar powered coaches and a unique facility of battery bank was inducted by Indian Railways Minister Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu at the Safdarjung railway station in New Delhi last week.
Officials said the solar-powered train is expected to save around 21,000 liters of diesel a year.
"A solar power DEMU train with six trailer coaches will save about 21,000 liters of diesel," a railway spokesman said. "Savings for a 10 coach rake with eight trailer coaches will increase proportionately. These benefits will continue for entire 25 years life time of the rake. This will help in making DEMU commuter services better, more economical and environment friendly."
According to officials, the train has been manufactured at the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) in Chennai (Tamil Nadu), and the solar panels by the Indian Railways Organization of Alternative Fuel (IROAF).
"This first rake has been commissioned and based at Shakurbasti DEMU shed in Delhi of Northern Railway. Twenty-four more coaches will be fitted with this system within the next six months," the officials said.
Prabhu described the induction of solar trains a "path-breaking" towards making Indian trains greener and environment-friendly. He said more solar powered trains may be inducted in future.
"Indian Railways is committed for environment conservation and use of cleaner fuels," Prabhu said. "We are trying to increase use of non-conventional sources of energy."
Officials said Indian Railways has already made a target of 1,000 MW solar plants in next five-years.
The ministry of railways is increasing its use of alternative energy sources as part of its commitment to using cleaner fuels.
"Indian Railways is also taking several other environment friendly measures like Tea Plantation, Bio-toilet, Water-Recycling, Waste Disposal, using Bio-fuel CNG and LNG, Wind Energy etc," the spokesman said.
With the induction of solar powered trains, India has joined the club of select-few countries to run trains on alternative fuel.
Indian government in 2015 announced an investment of over 137 billion U.S. dollars over a period of next five years to boost railways and modernize them on new lines.
Indian sprawling railways is the world's third largest network, ferrying around 23 million people each day.