The Indian Railways finally added a regenerative loco, developed by BHEL to its fleet. The move should help it conserve energy. Metro train systems are already using the technology.
The Indian Railways.which has been going the electric way aggressively or some time now, finally got a taste of ‘hybrid’ locos. Like Hybrid cars, the move involves the introduction of regenerative braking, or a process where the energy created by braking, instead of being lost as heat energy, is instead converted to electrical energy by various means. Though the technology has existed for a long time, it has entered the railways network only now, as electrification picks pace.
Hybrid cars made regenerative braking a well known feature, especially the Toyota Prius, which uses it to deliver extra mileage.
Developed in house by BHEL, the public sector undertaking that makes Electric locos too , at its plant in Jhansi, the first loco with the technology was flagged off at Jhansi only.
The biggest challenge with regenerative brakes is the need to closely match the generated current with the supply characteristics and increased maintenance cost of the lines. With DC supplies, this requires that the voltage be closely controlled.
The Railways has been increasingly going electric, with its large diesel fleet set for retirement in phases, or life as shunting engines. The plan is to become 100% electric by 2030, the year the railways also wants to become a net zero carbon emitter. It’s the sort of stretch target other large firms need to learn from, though opinion remains devided on whether the railways will actually make it.
With close to 23 million passengers on the network daily through its 13000 plus trains, its a resolve we should all support completely.