S Rly to chug along the green way; signs MoU to set up 1 lakh litre per day bio-diesel plant
CHENNAI: Travelling by train could soon be a green way with Southern Railway planning to replace polluting diesel with much more
environment-friendly and indigenously produced bio-diesel in its diesel locomotives.
As a first step towards making the operation of trains environment-friendly and cost-effective, Southern Railway has signed a MoU with Indian Railways Organisation for Alternate Fuels (IROAF) to set up a mega bio-diesel plant at the Loco Works in Perambur.
The plant, with a capacity of one lakh litres per day, is expected to meet the bio-diesel requirements of Southern Railway, South Central Railway and South Western Railway.
The railways is going ahead with electrification of tracks but several pockets in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka are yet to be electrified and hence require diesel locomotives to operate trains. With the cost of diesel high, the railways has cosen bio-diesel as an alternative fuel.
Currently, about 600 kilo litres of diesel are used per day to operate trains on the southern trunk route from Chennai Egmore to Tiruchi, Madurai, Kanyakumari and also to Tuticorin.
"Many popular trains from Chennai Egmore are operated with diesel locomotives. The mega plant will be able to produce bio-diesel to fuel these trains as well as the diesel locomotives used for shunting," said Southern Railway chief mechanical engineer V Carmelus.
The plant is expected to start production by 2010 and "will be able to meet the requirement of the green fuel for railways in the coming years," he added.
According to a study conducted by the Golden Rock Workshop in Tiruchi, the green fuel has many advantages it reduces wear and tear of engine components, enhances the life of fuel-injection equipment, cuts the use of lube oil and reduces exhaust gas temperature.
The Loco Works in Perambur already runs a pilot plant and produces around 250 litres of bio diesel, used for a couple of locomotives and also for automobiles used by the factory.
As early as 2002, experimenting with bio-diesel began as part of a mission to find an alternative fuel. After trials, the New-Delhi-Amritsar Shatabdi Express was run successfully on a five per cent blend of bio-diesel.
In 2003, Southern Railway started its experiments with trial production in a five-litre plant by procuring raw oil of Pongammia Pinnata (Karanja) at the Loco Works. Four automobiles were put on bio-diesel; one of them was fully run on bio-diesel while others used a 20 % blend of the green fuel.
In July 2004, a pilot plant of 100 litres was installed. The Loco Works uses cooking oil collected from star hotels as raw material to produce bio diesel. Currently, Southern Railway uses bio-diesel to run a broad gauge locomotive, a Diesel Electric Multiple Unit (DEMU), two metre gauge locomotives and industrial machinery like fork lifts, bulldozer, tipper trucks, cranes and others. Nilgriri Mountain Railway is also run using bio diesel.
Action from Railway Board New Delhi Required.