Hydrogen Powered Engines for Indian Railways Not too Distant, Railway Minister

Union Railway Minister, Piyush Goyal has stated that Indian Railways is working on the development of a Hydrogen-powered suburban train and has floated an EoI for industry participation.

According to Mr Piyush Goyal, Railway Minister and member of the Union Cabinet, Indian Railways is working on the development of a Hydrogen-powered suburban train and has floated an Expression of Interest for industry participation. “Hydrogen is planned to be sourced from industry in India. Hydrogen production is not planned by Indian Railways. The decision on deployment of hydrogen-propelled trains for long-distance routes will be based on the development of the technology,” Goyal said in a written reply in Parliament.

Tata Motors has developed seven hydrogen fuel cell buses that comply with the International Safety Standards of Hydrogen Safety. Also, the International Standards Organisation, Society of Automotive Engineers and United Nations have published stringent safety standards for use of hydrogen in transport vehicles.

“Type test of these vehicles have shown that Hydrogen as a transport fuel is safe to handle and use. Similarly, safety aspects concern for passengers shall be an integral part of the technical specifications of the hydrogen-powered trains,” the minister said.

Hydrail, as all trains that can run on hydrogen fuel are currently termed, is a fast emerging category , with European powerhouse Germany backing it, besides the UK and others.  Prototypes have been tested and run successfully, creating enough optimism among proponents to see Hydrails running commercially as early as 2022.  In Germany, two Coradia iLint trains, built by French TGV-maker Alstom, started running a 62 mile (100km) route between the towns and cities of Cuxhaven, Bremerhaven, Bremervoerde and Buxtehude in northern Germany  in September 2018– a stretch normally plied by diesel trains.

In India, the move would be part of the railways’ efforts at greening its fuel use. Indian Railways has already fitted solar panels on rooftops of Diesel Electric Multiple Unit (DEMU) trains of capacity 4.5 kW for catering to hotel load.

Also, the blending of high-speed diesel with 5 percent Bio-diesel has also been started for railway locomotives. The transporter has also started pilot projects involving running DEMU trains with Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) over 18 trains.

In January, Goyal had announced that the entire network of railways in the country will run on electricity by 2024. “We are embarking on rapid electrification of the rail network by 2024, we expect the entire railways to be 100 percent run on electricity,” the minister had said while speaking at the India-Brazil Business Forum.

“It will be the first railway in the entire world, of this scale and size, to be run on electricity and by 2030, we plan to make the entire railway network a zero-emission network. It will run on clean energy,” he added.

By Arrangement with Saurenergy.com

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