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IN A pilot project to improve facilities at railway stations, the Western Railway (WR) has installed solar panels at its Matunga Road railway station.
The 48 panels — of 280 Watt each — altogether would generate 48 kilowatt (kW) hours per day and replace the daytime energy usage of the entire railway station. Railway officials said the solar energy usage would also save around Rs 2 lakh per annum.
“The solar panels, installed on a pilot basis at the Matunga Road railway station on June 20, would replace the daytime conventional energy usage of the station. They will be used for substituting electricity usage for administrative work across the station in the daytime. We expect to save at least 30-40 per cent electricity consumption a day, through the use of solar panels,” said Shailesh Gupta, Additional General Manager, WR.
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Commenting on the need for replacing a part of energy usage through solar panels, Mukul Jain, Divisional Railway Manager, WR, said, “The use of solar energy is clean, renewable and very cost-effective. It is one of the green initiatives of Western Railway which we are undertaking on a war-footing. More panels will be installed at other railway stations in the coming days.”
The project is part of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) of Asset Reconstruction Company (India) Limited (ARCIL). The WR said it would install these at other prime railway stations facing heavy electricity usage, if the pilot project generated a positive response.
Under the Mumbai Urban Transport Project-II, the WR along with the Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC), is looking at improving the suburban railway stations. This includes various station uplift works, including elevating the platform height to match the footboard level of the train, installing elevators and lifts along with other passenger amenities.
A senior railway official said, “The work of station development on the WR is an ongoing process. Till now, we have installed 50 escalators and 20 lifts between Churchgate and Virar suburban stations. We are also coming up with an elevated deck at Borivali station joining every foot-overbridge, thus ensuring a better connection with each platform.”
Management of these services must also be looked into, confirmed railway activists. Vijay Aravamudhan, railway activist, said, “Managing electrical requirements to manage railway station utilities through renewable sources of energy like solar power is an excellent move by railways and is very much appreciated. This will take the burden off the state electricity boards and also bring in more energy savings for Indian Railways… More lifts and escalators are also good…but commuters should be disciplined not to spoil or ruin the facilities.”