Rlys to be world’s 1st large, clean railways by 2030: Goyal

New Delhi: Union Railway and Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal on Thursday said that the Indian Railways will become the world’s first large, clean railways and move towards 100 per cent electrification in the next three and half years.

Speaking at the Confederation of Indian Industry’s (CII) event on ‘Towards a Self-Reliant India: Renewable Energy Manufacturing’, Goyal said, “Prime MInister Narendra Modi had said that India has become a model for the world when the transition to renewable energy is mentioned.

“Today, every willing citizen has access to power at affordable prices. And, we have invested deeply in the transmission sector for widespread availability of sector. I do hope the states support us to make power 24×7 available at affordable prices,” the Minister said.

Emphasising on renewable energy, Goyal said that dependency on fossil fuel is not viable. “Along with environmental benefits, renewable energy is good for the nation economically. In renewable energy, we have been able to bring in scale, increase demand and reduce prices. We are seeing people wanting to go in for renewable energy,” Goyal said.

“For renewable energy to further progress, we need to enhance our manufacturing and become self-sufficient and need the support of the states,” he said. Talking about the national transporter’s plans to go green by 2030, the Minister said, “Railways will move to 100 per cent electrification in the next three and half years and 100 per cent ‘net zero’ operator in the next 9-10 years.

“By 2030, each one of us will be a proud citizen, owning the world’s first large clean railways,” Goyal said.

The Indian Railways has initiated a number of major initiatives to mitigate global warming and combat climate change. According to the Railway Ministry officials, the national transporter has completed electrification of more than 40,000 route km (RKM), which is 63 per cent of the broad-gauge routes, in which 18,605 km electrification has been done during 2014-20.

The officials said that the Railways has fixed a target of electrification of 7,000 RKM for 2020-21.The officials also said that all the routes on the broad-gauge network have been planned to be electrified by December 2023 and the Railways is focusing on electrification of the last-mile connectivity and missing links.

The official also said that the Railways has also taken a number of initiatives to promote solar energy. “The Indian Railways is working to harness the potential of 500 Mega Watt (MW) energy through rooftop solar panels and till date, solar plants with 100-MW capacity have been commissioned on rooftops of various buildings, including 900 rail stations,” the official said.

“Solar plants with a combined capacity of 400 MW are under different stages of execution. Tenders are already awarded for 245 MW and the target for the completion of these plants is December 2022,” the official said.

The Railways, which has over 51,000 hectares of land pool, is trying to produce power from land-based solar installations for running trains. The 51,000 hectares hold the potential to set up 20 GW land-based solar plants. The solar power so generated will be fed to a central or state grid or directly to 25 kV AC traction system.

“The Railway Energy Management Company Limited (REMCL), a Joint Venture Company of Indian Railways (49 per cent equity) and RITES Limited (51 per cent equity), has been mandated to take up land-based projects,” the official said.

The official pointed out that one project of 1.7 MW at Bina in Madhya Pradesh in collaboration with the Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) has been installed and is under extensive testing. “This is the first-of-its-kind solar project in the world,” he said.

Initially, as regards the land-based solar projects, the Railways has taken up a 3-GW solar project in three phases. In the wind energy sector, 103-MW wind-based power plants have already been commissioned, including 26-MW plant in Rajasthan’s Jaisalmer, 21-MW plant in Tamil Nadu and 56.4-MW plant in Maharashtra’s Sangli.