Indian Railways well poised to go green !

Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, CII
“Indian Railways have a central role in connecting our Nation; connecting the areas that were left behind. It is truly the lifeline of our progress”. Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. “Railway is naturally a Green mode of transport. We want to make it further Greener by adopting Renewable Energy as a major source of Energy for Railways”. Shri Piyush Goyal, Hon’ble Minister of Railways, Govt of India
As the world is racing towards going green, Indian Railways (IR) has embraced the concept with all commitment and enthusiasm. Going green would contribute in tremendous tangible benefits like savings in energy & water and waste management.
Railways is working on a National mission mode in going green and is the largest rail network in the world to pursue the path of green. Surely, this would make India proud and stand tall amongst Nations !
Railways is driven by a holistic vision of being environment friendly, resource efficient, cost effective, and evolve as a modern carrier of passengers and freight, as it serves the growing needs of a new and aspirational India. The environmental initiatives being envisaged include massive electrification, installation of large scale renewable energy, demand side energy efficiency, and water management. The larger approach in going green lies in addressing the five elements of Nature–Earth, Energy, Water, Air and Space which is inherent in the Indian ethos. Indian Railways are  switching over from fossil fuels to electrification, embracing alternate forms of energy, increasing efficiency of operations and implementing several green practices at the unit levels.
Electrification of Railways is one of the first steps towards switching over to cleaner fuels, as electric trains are more efficient, less polluting and cost effective. The pace of railway electrification, has grown ten-fold from 610 km /year in 2014-15 to 6015 km/year in 2020-21. This is a commendable achievement considering the Covid situation in the country in 2020-21 ! Railways has plans  to achieve 100% electrification of broad gauge routes by December, 2023. This will facilitate elimination of diesel traction resulting in significant reduction in environmental pollution.
The reducing cost of renewable energy in the last few years augurs well for the country. Renewable Power would take the centre stage in the next 10 to 20 years.The Railways has installed about 114 MW of solar rooftop plants in over 1,000 railway stations and 400 service buildings. There are also plans to set up solar plants on unused vacant Railway land to meet the growing traction power requirement. Railway plans to install 20 GW land based solar plants, so that the entire requirement of Indian Railways, including traction is met through renewable sources of Power.
Dedicated Freight Corridors with higher load carrying capacity & speed are being developed as transportation network, which will require adopting efficient technologies. It is envisioned to have two Dedicated Freight Corridor projects viz. Eastern Corridor (EDFC) from Ludhiana to Dankuni (1,875 km) and Western Corridor (WDFC) from Dadri to Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (1,506 km). More DFCs are being planned for the future to enable shift from road transport of freight to environmentally friendly rail mode.
As we move to the future, High speed rail would contribute immensely in the Railways treading the green path. The Government of India has sanctioned the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail Corridor Project (508 kms). Further, seven high density passenger routes covering about 5,000 km have been identified for High-Speed Rail in the first phase for preparation of Detailed Project Report (DPR)
Railways have responded well to the National call on saving ‘Lives and Livelihood’ at a time when the country is going through the pandemic. During the last one year, Railways moved 73 lakh tonnes of food grains and has run 241 Oxygen express trains, thereby transporting 15,046 tonnes of oxygen to various parts of the country.
Notably, an MoU was signed between Railways and Confederation of Indian Industry in 2016 for facilitation of Green initiatives.  As a result, several Workshops, Production Units,  Loco Sheds and Stores depot have been ‘GreenCo’ certified, the first of its kind certification in the world for industrial process & manufacturing.  Green certification covers assessment of performance parameters such as, energy conservation, use of renewable energy, Green House Gas emission reduction, water conservation, waste management, material conservation and recycling.
The Indian Green Building Council (IGBC), part of CII, spearheading the green building movement in India since 2001 has been closely engaged with Indian Railways in its efforts to green its buildings and infrastructure. The Council has thus far facilitated about 7.8 billion sq.ft in the country and India today stands second in the world in embracing the green building concepts. The country is well poised to reach 10 Billion sq.ft by 2022 when India attains its 75th year since Independence. Several buildings& facilities of Indian railways including railways stations, offices, campuses, hospitals, training centres and schools have attained the highest levels of green building certification. This has resulted in substantial reduction in energy and water consumption.
In a nutshell, Railways have taken up visionary and path breaking initiatives in embracing green. The unique collaboration between the Railways and CII would help in translating the green vision to a reality. PIB