India explores global partnerships for indigenous hydrogen-powered trains

  • Industry News
  • Dec 04,23
The Indian Railways is advancing the creation of a prototype train utilising hydrogen fuel cells, offering a more eco-friendly alternative to traditional diesel locomotives.
India explores global partnerships for indigenous hydrogen-powered trains

India plans to seek expressions of interest from global entities for the production of hydrogen-powered trains domestically, leveraging technology currently under indigenous development. The Indian Railways is advancing the creation of a prototype train utilising hydrogen fuel cells, offering a more eco-friendly alternative to traditional diesel locomotives. Ashwini Vaishnaw, the Railways Minister, emphasised the nation's commitment to renewable energy, with a focus on increasing the adoption of green energy.

India's progress in developing hydrogen-powered train technology is significant, and the aim is to have a prototype ready by the end of the current fiscal year. The subsequent step involves collaborative manufacturing efforts with both domestic and international railway system manufacturers. The official call for expressions of interest is anticipated to be announced next year upon the completion of the prototype.

The deployment of commercial hydrogen-powered trains would position India among a select group of railway systems operating emission-free locomotives. Presently, only Germany has such trains in commercial operation, while the US, the UK, France, and Japan are in the testing phase.

The strategy for developing this technology involves retrofitting hydrogen fuel cells onto diesel electric multiple unit (DEMU) rakes, with the initial prototype expected to operate on the Jind-Sonipat section in Haryana. The Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, introduced the 'Hydrogen for Heritage' scheme in the budget speech, outlining plans to run hydrogen-powered trains on environmentally sensitive heritage and hilly routes.

The proposal envisions 35 hydrogen trains to be operated at an estimated cost of Rs 80 crore per train, along with ground infrastructure expenses amounting to Rs 70 crore per route. The ongoing financial year has seen the sanctioning of 35 train-set rakes (each with six coaches) for eight specific sections. These include the Matheran Hill Railway, Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, Kalka-Shimla Railway, Kangra Valley, Bilmora Waghai, Patalpani Kalakund, Nilgiri Mountain Railways, and Marwar-Goram Ghat.

While the initial manufacturing cost for one rake of six coaches with hydrogen propulsion is approximately Rs 80 crore, and the ground infrastructure cost is Rs 600 crore, the Ministry of Railways has indicated that the running costs of hydrogen-powered trains are expected to decrease with the expansion of their fleet.

Source: Mint

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