Going ahead with its green initiatives, Railways launched first Diesel Electric Multiple Unit (DEMU) coaches equipped with solar-power where fan and lighting in coaches will be through solar energy.
The train will run from Sarai Rohilla in Delhi to Farukh Nagar in Haryana. A total of 16 solar panels, each producing 300 Wp, are fitted in six coaches.
The new train built at Integral Coach Factory (ICF) in Chennai have a life of 25 years and will have a capacity of 89 people per coach and will start operations from Saturday.
There are two motor coaches and eight passenger coaches in the ten-coach train. It will replace an existing non-solar powered rake on the same route.
There has been no change in the fare and the journey will take nearly one-and-half hours. In a bid to make the journey comfortable, cushioned seats have been provided. There are rakes for luggage and a display board in each coach.
The train was flagged off by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu from Delhi’s Safdarjung Railway Station. The installed solar rooftop system will generate 7200 KW of energy per year per system which will be used for powering internal lights, fans and other electrical systems of the coach.
The total cost of the train is Rs 13.54 crore with the passenger coaches costing around Rs 1 crore each and the two motor coaches costing Rs 2.5 each. The solar panels on six coaches cost Rs 9 lakh each.
The project will help offset carbon emissions by 9 tons per coach per year and also save about 21,000 litres of diesel for a solar-powered DEMU with six trailer coaches, thereby bringing cost saving of Rs 12 lakh every year.
The railways are planning to introduce nearly 50 more such coaches in the coming days.
Nearly Rs 700 crore will be saved by Indian Railways annually once the full project is implemented, according to Ravinder Gupta, the CEO of Indian Railways Organisation for Alternative fuel.
The energy generated through the panel will be stored in batteries and can be used during night as well. The two passenger coaches which do not have solar panel will operate on diesel. The train has two parallel power sources — solar power and diesel — and in case of failure of the former, it will switch on to the latter. The train has a power back-up and can run on battery for at least 72 hours.
Surplus power generated during peak hours will be stored in a 120 AH battery system. It will help in generating useful data for research for adapting the system for future rollout on all trains of Indian Railways.
The solar system has been fitted with anti-theft mechanism which can withstand trains running with a speed of more than 100 km/hr.
This is the first instance of a diesel-run passenger train fitted with solar rooftop system with battery backup.