In a bid to bring down its electricity bill for the suburban railways that stood at Rs 234 crore during financial year 2013-2014, the Western Railway (WR), which is buying bulk power at rates that are probably the highest in the country, has turned to the Gujarat government for relief.
According to sources, the WR is looking to source 50 MW power from Gujarat to run its locals, for which the Gujarat government has agreed. If the deal goes as planned, WR will have to pay Rs 5 per unit compared to Rs 6-9 per unit that it pays Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL) and Tata Power.
“For some time, we have been in talks with the Gujarat government, which has agreed in-principle to supply power for our suburban system. This will bring down the expenditure on electricity drastically and help the administration budget money,” a senior railway officer said.
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“It’s in the pilot stage for now. Depending on the availability of power with the Gujarat government, we can increase it,” said the officer.
WR is already buying power from Gujarat for its long-distance trains. WR’s Mumbai division, which runs both suburban and long-distance trains, requires 425 MW of power daily.
At present, WR depends on MSEDCL and Tata Power to meet its routine power needs for the Mumbai suburban rail system. MSEDCL charges Rs 6.72 per unit while Tata Power charges Rs 9.14 per unit.
In its budget, WR spends 25 per cent of its total earnings on purchasing energy, making it only the second highest expenditure to wages.
Railway officers said under bulk consumers, the present rates paid by WR was one of the highest in the country.
“The MSEDCL has hiked power tariff by 36 per cent and Tata Power by 44 per cent in the last two years. However, the hike in passenger fares is not the same,” said Hemant Kumar, General Manager, WR, during a media briefing on Thursday.
Citing comparative fares of different modes of transport in the city, Kumar said that suburban railway system continued to be highly subsidised.
According to data compiled by WR, if a person has to travel between Churchgate and Borivali — a distance of 35 km — he would pay 0.11 paise per km (second-class Monthly Season Ticket ) and 0.37 paise (first-class MST) to travel in a local train, 0.82 paise per km by BEST bus and Rs 3.30 per km by Metro.