Indian Railways will operate 35 hydrogen trains under “Hydrogen for Heritage” at an estimated cost of ₹80 crore per train and ground infrastructure of ₹70 crore per route on various heritage/hill routes, Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw informed the Rajya Sabha.
The first hydrogen-powered train will run on the heritage Kalka-Shimla line by December. The train will be designed and manufactured in India under Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative, the minister said.
“As the budget focuses on green growth, Railways will also contribute with the hydrogen train which will come by December 2023 and will be designed and manufactured in India. First, it will run on heritage circuits like Kalka-Shimla and later it will be expanded to other places,” he said.
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Railways has also awarded a pilot project for retro fitment of hydrogen fuel cell on existing Diesel Electric Multiple Unit (DEMU) rake along with ground infrastructure at a cost of ₹111.83 crore which is planned to be run on Jind-Sonipat section of Northern Railway, Vaishnaw said.
Field trials of the first prototype on Jind-Sonipat section is expected to commence in 2023-2024.
“The running cost of hydrogen fuel based train is not established in Indian Railways scenario. It is estimated that the initial running cost of hydrogen fuel train-set will be higher which will subsequently reduce with an increase in the number of trains. Further, the use of Hydrogen as fuel provides larger benefits in the direction of green transportation technology to support zero carbon emission goals as a clean energy source,” Vaishnaw said.
Also read: Budget 2023: Railways allocated a record-high capital outlay of ₹2.40 lakh crore
Worldwide, there is a bid to replace diesel-powered locomotives with hydrogen-propelled engines wherever full electrification is difficult or too expensive as it offers an emission-free, quiet alternative that can be economically competitive.
Germany’s Coradia iLint is the world’s first passenger train powered by a hydrogen fuel cell, which produces electrical power for traction. This zero-emission train emits low levels of noise, with exhaust being only steam and condensed water. This train can run 1,000 km at a speed of 140kmph at one go. This train was being tested in Germany since 2018.
China too recently launched Asia’s first hydrogen-powered trains for the Urban Railways. It gets a range of 600 km on a single tank, with a top speed of 160 kmph, according to reports.
Indian Railways’ heritage routes, which primarily run on diesel are — Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, Nilgiri Mountain Railway, Kalka Shimla Railway, Matheran Hill Railway, Kangra Valley, Bilmora Waghai and Marwar-Devgarh Madriya. All are narrow gauge.
#AatmanirbharBharat की एक और मिसाल है Hydrogen train.
December 2023 तक ये ट्रेन बनकर निकलेगी।#GreenGrowth #AmritKaalBudget pic.twitter.com/De46UcLtAB
— Ashwini Vaishnaw (@AshwiniVaishnaw) February 1, 2023