In a press release on Tuesday, the Railway Ministry announced that it would be upgrading all existing Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) coaches with the Head on Generation (HOG) technology, a move that would cause the trains to become more cost-efficient and less polluting.
The press release also says that the implementation of the project is already underway and that the Railways has so far earned Rs 800 crores in annual savings after 342 trains were fitted with the new technology.
LHB coaches, and the novel Head on Generation (HOG) technology
The LHB coaches have been built in India at the Asansol-based Chittaranjan Locomotive Works (CLW) after the Railways purchased their technology from the German manufacturer Linke Hofmann Busch in 1996.
These coaches were originally designed to operate on the End on Generation (EOG) principle. According to a paper by OP Kesari and SK Deo of the Research Design and Standards Organisation, under the EOG system, the train’s ‘hotel load’ (the load of air conditioning, lights, fans, and pantry, etc.) is provided with electricity from two large diesel generator sets, which supply 3-phase power at 750 Volts 50 Hz to the entire length of the train. Each coach then picks up the power supply through a 60 KVA transformer, bringing down the voltage to 110 volts at which level the equipment in the compartment is run. The generator cars are attached to either end of the train, giving the system its name.
As opposed to the older EOG system, the Head on Generation (HOG) system runs the hotel load by drawing electricity from the overhead electric lines through the pantograph. The power supply from the overhead cable is 750 volts at single-phase, and a transformer with a winding of 945 kVA converts it to a 750 Volts 50 Hz output at 3-phase. This energy is then provided to the compartments.
As per the press release, of the 342 trains that have already been upgraded, 13 are Rajdhani, 14 Shatabdi, 11 Duronto, 6 Sampark Kranti, 16 Humsafar, and 282 other Mail/Express. Another 284 are now awaiting upgradation, a job that has been entrusted to the respective Zonal Railways.
Cheaper, more passenger space, environment friendly
Since the HOG-fitted trains do not require power from diesel generators at all, they only have one emergency generator car attached, instead of two regular generator cars. The Railways has said that the extra space created would now be used for an LSLRD (LHB Second Luggage, Guard & Divyaang Compartment)– meaning more passengers can be accommodated.
According to the press release, the cost savings would be significant. Once all LHB trains get the new system, the Ministry said that it would be saving INR 1390 crores every year. The increased cost efficiency, as per the Ministry, is because of the low price per unit of electricity in the HOG system @ INR 6/unit, as compared to the price of INR 22/unit in the EOG system.
The Ministry also said that the HOG system is free of air and noise pollution. The system would bring down yearly CO2 and NOx emissions, which according to the press release are currently at 1724.6 tonnes/annum and 7.48 tonnes/annum respectively, to zero. According to the aforementioned research paper, the reduction in emissions could also help the Railways accrue carbon credits, and trade them on the international market. It also says that with the noise-emitting generator sets gone, noise pollution would also drop.