Indian Railways plans LNG-run locos for long distances

The Indian Railways is set to go green by rolling out engines fuelled by environment friendly and cost-effective liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Though in the preliminary stage, the railways — which currently uses coal, diesel and electricity as fuels — gradually plans to switch over to the globally recognised natural gas powered locomotives.

The Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO) -the Lucknow research wing of the Railways — is working on development of a prototype of an LNG-powered locomotive, as part of its efforts to adopt environment-friendly and costeffective alternative fuels.

“Once the prototype is proven on the field, the Railways plans to build another 20 LNG-based locomotives on the same concept,” said AK Mathur, spokesperson, RDSO.

It would take another 2-3 years for putting the locomotives for commercial usage, after passing all the safety tests, he added.

With the introduction of this technology, the Railways expects a 50% reduction in operating costs of locomotives. In addition, there would be an elimination of smoke from the locomotives and significant reductions in other regulated and unregulated emissions.

“Once the Railways switches over completely to natural gas as fuel for its diesel locomotives, it would amount to only 2.2 % of India’s annual natural gas consumption of 81 million tonnes and therefore commercially feasible,” said a railway official.

At present, Indian Railways uses coal, diesel and electricity as fuels for running its fleet of locomotives. Prices of both these fuels have been rising rapidly due to increasing prices of crude oil and imported coal, devaluation of the rupee and such factors that, apart from environment concerns, has prompted the public carrier to think of an alternate fuel.

Already, a short distance diesel electrical multiple unit (DEMU) has been converted into a compressed natural gas (CNG) driven locomotive in Shakoor Basti in Delhi. The concept would be soon replicated in 40 other trains.

“CNG is used for short distances while LNG would be applicable for long distance trains as well,” added the official. LNG is a natural gas (predominantly methane) that has been converted to liquid form for ease of storage or transport.

It is pertinent to mention here that the Indian Railways is one of the first railway transport systems in the world to plan LNG-run locomotives for long distances.

Indian Railways to go LNG way for savings

Railways has decided to gradually opt for liquefied natural gas on a large scale as part of its effort to reduce diesel consumption, green house gas emissions and ensure major operational savings.

The Indian Railways and the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) have signed a MoU to explore the potential of LNG in a substantial manner in locomotives, factories and workshops.

“The induction of LNG in railways is likely to be in a phase-wise manner. We will begin with industrial uses in factories to usage in diesel multiple units and then in mainline diesel locomotives,” a senior Railway Ministry official said.

Railways is currently dependent on refined petroleum products such as high speed diesel for locomotives and furnace oil in workshops and factories. At the moment, the transport behemoth uses approximately 250 crore litre of high speed diesel for locomotives annually.

Published in: on August 18, 2011 at 4:40 pm  Leave a Comment  
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