AROUND 1,000 MW of solar power will be generated annually by the railways soon, Union railway minister Suresh Prabhu said Saturday. Of this, 500 MW will be produced by installing solar panels on rooftops of railway buildings, the minister said on the sidelines of a programme in the city to flag off the Antyodaya Express. The train will run from Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (LTT) in Mumbai to Tatanagar in Jamshedpur.
The minister also inaugurated a Made-in-India product, Medha rake, for the Mumbai suburban railways and the Miraj-Solapur Express, along with some passenger amenities, including solar panels at Churchgate railway station, a mechanised laundry at LTT and wi-fi facilities in some stations.
To accomplish Mission 41K announced in this year’s Union budget, reducing expenditure on power will remain a key aim of the Indian Railways, Prabhu said. “In a span of 10 years, the total electricity expenditure of the railways will be less than Rs 41,000 crore. We have started taking initiatives in this regard by installing solar panels on rooftops of station buildings and conducting energy-efficiency audits. While Rs 4,000 crore has already been saved, the aim remains to reach the figure,” he said.
Talking about the new train, Prabhu said: “With Antodyaya, the passengers who want to avail of a decent rail journey at affordable rates will be benefited. In a span of two months, rakes like Tejas, Uday and Humsafar express will be launched as promised in last years’ budget. Five hundred services of Tejas, which is by far the best running rake of the Indian railways will be given,” he said. By Saturday evening, eight passenger bookings were made from LTT station for the Antodyaya express.
“A survey is being carried out to understand the requirements of passengers regarding connectivity. Like Miraj-Solapur Express, more trains will be introduced. With the introduction of the Mumbai-Lucknow air-conditioned superfast weekly train on April 8, we will connect two important cities and states of the country,” Prabhu added.
He said generation of indigenous equipment and technology through the ‘Make-in-India’ initiative would remain an area of focus.
“Five years ago, the railways would tend to import more which would increase our costs. Since the past three years, the focus has been on utilisation of self-made products. We will ensure that more equipment made by the Indian railways get exported,” Prabhu added.
He also said that of the Rs 1,36,000 crore used for railway projects in Maharashtra, Mumbai’s share is projects worth Rs 51,000 crore. “Around 80 per cent of platform height has been increased in two years to curtail (the number of) rail related deaths. While 272 passengers die every year in rail accidents, we hope the Central Railway will increase the platform height of all stations by this year,” Kirit Somaiya, the BJP MP said.