Sep 3: Indian Railways, one of the largest consumers of oil in the world, is taking bigger steps towards the direction of usage of cleaner fuels. As a part of it, Indian Railways has now signed a preliminary deal with gas firm GAIL (India) Ltd under which the latter will be providing natural gas to the railways to facilitate its operations.
The natural gas supplied by GAIL will be used by Indian Railways to gradually replace the use of fossil fuels in many of its operations. Besides shifting to a greener way of fuel consumption, the move will also help railways cut down the fuel cost by around 25%. Railways will initially use the natural gas to replace alternatives fuel used in workshops and production units according to Ashwani Lohani, Chairman of Indian Railways’ board.
Gradually, Railways will make all its workshops run through natural gas. Currently, Railways has 54 workshops across the country, and all these workshops are expected to run on natural gas by June 2019, says Ashwani Lohani.
Railways’ shift to consumption of natural gas will be initially confined to workshop operations and production units. This, however, would represent only a smaller fraction of the total fuel consumption of Indian Railways. As per the data provided by Chetram, chief administrative officer of Indian Railways Organisation for Alternate fuels, Indian Railways consumes about 3 billion litres of diesel a year in total.
It will take long for railways to replace its complete consumption of fossil fuel with natural fuel. However, Railways is hoping to replace a good share of fossil fuel with natural gas in a year. This include 844,027 cubic metres of acetylene, 2.35 million kilograms of liquefied petroleum gas and 140,991 kilograms of cut gases, the collective of which amounts to $2.4 million (Rs 170 million).
The push of Railways to use natural gas falls in line with the decision of the country to increase the stake of natural gas in infrastructure building in the coming years. The government is eyeing to increase the usage of natural gases by up to 15% in the near future from the current 6.5%.