Indian Railways launched the country's first train with solar-powered coaches on Friday. The diesel electric multiple unit (DEMU) broad gauge train has a battery bank facility that ensures sufficient power even in the absence of sunlight.
The solar panels installed on the roofs of the coaches will tend to the entire electrical need of the unit, which includes lights, fans and information display system.
Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu inaugurated the train on Friday at the Safdarjung Railway Station in New Delhi, and said that it was a "path-breaking leap" towards making Indian trains more environment friendly.
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The first rake of the train will reportedly be put in commercial service over the suburban railway system of Delhi division soon.
The train will travel from Sarai Rohilla in Delhi to Farrukhnagar in the Gurgaon district of Haryana, according to Bloomberg.
Demu trains, which are multiple-unit trains generally powered by on-board engines without a separate locomotive, provide power for its passenger comfort system through a diesel-driven generator.
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Although the 1,600 horsepower train has been manufactured at the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) in Chennai, its solar system and panels have been developed and fitted by the Indian Railways Organisation of Alternative Fuel (IROAF).
Reports state that 24 more coaches will be fitted with this system within a period of six months.
Prabhu said that the Indian Railways is committed to using cleaner fuels, and that this step was an attempt to increase the use of non-conventional source of energy in the country.
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Reports state that the carrier will take various other environment friendly measures like the use of bio-toilet, water recycling, waste disposal, bio-fuel CNG and LNG, and harnessing wind energy.
The IROAF has reportedly developed the special train system with a smart inverter, which optimises powered generation on a moving train to cater to full load even during the night hours.
The railways said that a solar powered DEMU train with six coaches will save at least 21,000 litres of diesel and in turn will save the ministry Rs 12 lakh every year.