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Indian Economy

Electrification of Railways

  • 30 Nov 2020
  • 4 min read

Why in News

Recently, the Minister of Railways has inaugurated the newly electrified Dhigawara-Bandikui section of North Western Railway and flagged off the first train on this electrified route from Dhigawara station in Alwar District, Rajasthan.

Key Points

  • History of Railways:
    • 1832: The first railway proposals for India were made in Madras.
    • 1837: The country got its first train in the form of Red Hill Railway, which was built with the sole purpose of transporting granite for road building.
    • 1853: In April, India’s first passenger train, operated by the Great Indian Peninsula Railway ran between Bori Bunder (Mumbai) and Thane.
    • 1925: In February, the first electric passenger train ran between Victoria Terminus and Kurla (Mumbai).
    • 1951: Indian Railways was nationalised.
  • Current Electrification:
    • Indian Railways has set a target to complete Electrification of its Broad gauge network by December 2023.
    • More than 66% of the Broad gauge route has already been electrified.
    • With 18065 km of electrification, Railways recorded a 371% increase in electrification during 2014-20 period as compared to 2009-2014.
  • Benefits of Electrification:
    • Speed: 100% electrification will provide seamless train operation by eliminating detention of trains due to change in traction (action of drawing or pulling something over a surface) from diesel to electric and vice versa.
    • Capacity: It will help Railways in enhancing line capacity due to higher speed and higher haulage capacity of electric locomotives.
    • Safety: Improved signaling system will lead to enhanced safety in train operations.
    • Less Financial Burden: Electric traction is much cheaper and efficient compared with diesel traction as running trains on electric traction is 50% cheaper than diesel.
    • Seamless Movement: Electric Multiple Units (EMUs) are ideal for suburban services, which require higher acceleration and braking features for frequent starts and stops.
    • Employment Generation: Direct employment during the construction phase for electrification will translate to about 20.4 crore man days, which will significantly boost the employment.
    • Energy Security: Total shift to electric traction will reduce fossil fuel consumption of about 2.83 billion liters per annum and also give a subsequent reduction in greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions.
      • GHG emission for electric traction falls below diesel traction, making it an environmentally friendly option.
    • Energy Bill Savings: It provides savings of Rs. 13,510 crore per annum in fuel bill as maintenance of electric locomotive is low as compared to diesel locomotive.
      • Regeneration facilities of electric locomotives will save 15-20% energy and also there is a reduced overall requirement of electric locomotives due to their higher horsepower.
    • Sustainability: Reduced carbon footprint as environmental cost per tonne Km for electric traction is less as compared to diesel traction.
      • In line with the commitment made by India in Conference of Parties (COP) 21 (Paris) total shift to electric traction will reduce Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emission of Railways by 24% till 2027-28.
      • Carbon footprint can be defined as the total amount of GHG produced directly and indirectly to support human activities, usually expressed in equivalent tons of CO2.
  • Using More Renewable Energy:


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