100% Electrification of Railways Current Affairs - 2020

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Minister of Railways Piyush Goyal awarded Carnot Prize

The Union Minister of Railways and Coal, Piyush Goyal has been awarded the Carnot Prize 2018 for the transformational changes brought by him during his tenure as Union Minister of Power.

Piyush Goyal during his tenure as Union Minister of Power, coal, new and renewable energy, and mines brought in transformational changes in the Power Sector which includes fast-track electrification of nearly 18,000 villages in some of the most remote and inaccessible parts of the country, rolling out a comprehensive power sector reform plan UDAY, the world’s largest LED bulb distribution program, and the world’s largest renewable energy expansion program. The award honours his exceptional service towards reforming the power sector in the country.

Accepting the award Piyush Goyal announced that government has embarked on an ambitious programme to ensure 100 per cent electrification of Railway’s grid in the next five years.

About Carnot Prize

The Carnot Prize is the annual recognition by the US-based Kleinman Center for Energy Policy for distinguished contributions to energy policy through scholarship or practice.

The prize has been named after French scientist Sadi Carnot, who in 1824 published Reflections on the Motive Power of Firewhich became the basis for the second law of thermodynamics. Carnot recognized that the power of the steam engine would “produce a great revolution” in human development.

The Carnot Prize is awarded to honour those who have revolutionized our understanding of energy policy.

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CCEA approves 100% Electrification of Railways by 2021-22

Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved 100% electrification broad gauge routes of Indian Railways (IR) by 2021-22. The 100% electrification will reduce use of imported fossil fuels thereby improve energy security. Reduction in consumption of high speed diesel oil will also result in reduction of GHG emissions, thus, reduce environmental impact of Railways.

Key Facts

CCEA’s decision covers only electrifying remaining 13,675 kilometers (16,540 track kilometers). Currently, around 48% of the country’s 61,680 km broad gauge railway network is electrified. However, this approval does not cover 3,479 km of metre gauge and 2,209 of broad gauge network.

After complete electrification, India will be having second largest electrified railway networks in the world after China, which has 87,000 km electrified network (around 68% of its network)  and only large railway with 100 % electrification. The proposed electrification is mainly for missing links and last mile connectivity will increase the operational efficiency, enhance line capacity and improve average speed of trains

Benefits of 100% electrification

Capacity & Speed: It will provide seamless train operation by eliminating detention of trains due to change in traction from diesel to electric and vice versa. It will help Railways in enhancing line capacity due to higher speed & higher haulage capacity of electric locomotives

Safety: It will result in improved signalling system which will lead to enhanced safety in train operation.
Energy Security and Energy bill savings: It will reduce fossil fuel consumption of about 2.83 billion liters per annum. Thus, reduce dependence on imported petroleum based fuels will ensure energy security to the nation. It will help Indian Railways to save Rs 13,500 crore annually on fuel bill. Moreover, maintenance of electric locomotive is less compared to diesel locomotive maintenance cost.

Sustainability: It is considered as environmentally friendly option as it will reduce carbon footprint of Indian Railways as environmental cost per tonne Km for electric traction is less as compared to diesel traction. Total shift to electric traction will reduce CO2 emission of Railways by 24% till 2027-28. It is also in line with India’s commitment in COP21.

Employment Generation: It will generate direct employment of about 20.4 crore man days during the period of construction.

What about existing diesel engines?

Indian Railways has fleet of 5,526 diesel engines. With change traction policy, operational diesel engines will be converted into electric ones during periodic overhaul, so that the diesel fleet gradually turns electric. Domestically manufactured new diesel locomotives will be exported. Even after 100% electrification, diesel engines will be used in emergencies and for strategic use such as in the border areas.

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