Indian Railway has been adjudged as a workhorse of Indian Infrastructre and Economy. Indian Railway forms the core of Indian logistics and transport mechanism. It is currently the world’s second largest railway network and since 2014 it is on transformation spree under the able leadership of PM Modi.
However, the most important aspect of the Indian Railway is fuel consumption. We don’t know if you are aware, but Indian Railway is the single largest consumer of electricity in India, consuming about 18 TWh per year, or roughly 2% of the country’s total power generation.
Indian Railway also consumes 2.6 billion liters of diesel annually or 3.2% of the total diesel consumption of the transport
sector in India. In addition, the energy demand of the Indian Railway is expected to triple by 2030 to 49 TWh due to increasing passenger volume.
Well, as this data shows, the Indian Railway is standing at a juncture, from where it can move towards a path of green transformation, where it can reduce the fuel consumption and move towards a low-carbon system, which can ultimately improve its financials and bring about economic growth.
Indian Railways – Mission 41 K
Modi government decided to go ahead on the pathway towards low-carbon economic growth, and set up an ambitious target for both deploying more clean energy and reduction in carbon emissions. In accordance with the Paris Agreement, India has pledged a reduction in the emissions intensity of 33-35% by 2030 from 2005 levels. India has also set a target to transition to non-fossil fuel-based energy for 40% of its cumulative electricity generation capacity by 2030.
The then Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu unveiled an exceptional ‘Mission 41K’ to save Rs 41,000 crore on the Indian Railways’ expenditure on energy consumption over the next decade. The government decided to take a slew of measures which include moving 90 percent of Railway traffic to electric traction over diesel. It used to be at 50 percent of the total railway traffic in the year 2015. The ministry decided to double the railway track electrification to achieve this target.
Mission 41K – The Planning
Well, the plan was too ambitious, so planning must be emasculate as well. As part of the plan, it was decided that all railway zones and production units will monitor and report the trends in consumption of traction energy, for both electrical and diesel, and carry out a thorough audit of water and energy consumption across major activity centers like railway depots, workshops, loco sheds, and railway stations, every month.
It was also decided to implement a system, which can monitor the consumption of all types of energy and water, along with regular and historic trend analysis and benchmarking. All the zones and production units have been asked to give their reports within six months, and then take the follow-up action based on the observation and analysis.
Mission 41 K- The Outcome
Governments are known for making the plans, however, it is the implementation that matters, and fortunately here we had wonderful leaders who were leading this whole activity under the guidance of PM Modi and Railway Ministers Suresh Prabhu and Piyush Goyal.
The results were astonishing, to say the least. With the rapid route electrification, Indian Railways has reduced its diesel fuel bill by over Rs 8000 crore in 2020-21, It is a significant saving for the cash-strapped public transporter.
Railway has been successfully reduced the diesel consumption from 3.06 billion liters in fiscal 2018-19 to 1.43 billion liters in 2020-21, which is a massive reduction. Thsi has been achieved due to replacement of diesel locomotives with electric ones.
Indian Railways has also logged the highest ever electrification of sections covering 6,015 Route Kilometer (RKM) in a single year during 2020-21, a massive record.
The latest Broad Gauge network of Indian Railways is 63,949 Route kilometer (RKM) and with 740 km of Konkan Railway is 64,689 RKM, out of which 45,881 RKM which is 71 % have been electrified by 31 March 2021.
This achievement is more important as this has been done despite the COVID pandemic. It has surpassed the previous record of 5,276 RKM achieved during 2018-19.
With all these initiatives, the Indian Railways is becoming environment friendly and energy secured as well. This will help the government to reduce the fuel bill and reliance on Oil-producing countries in the future, as that is a big point of contention in recent times.
India has to constantly work with OPEC countries to keep the oil price in check, however, this cant be going on forever, and we must use renewable or non-traditional sources of energy to fuel our transport sector and industries in long run. It seems, Indian Railway is on the correct path and we will bear the fruits of this massive hard work very soon.