In a statement on Thursday, the Railway Ministry said once the prototype of Lucknow-based Research Design and Standard Organization (RDSO) is proven on field, Railways plans to build 20 LNG-based locomotives. (Agencies)
The ministry estimates that if Indian Railways switches over completely to natural gas as fuel for its diesel locomotives, it would amount to only 2.2 percent of India's annual natural gas consumption of 81 million tonne which will be commercially feasible.
It expects that with this technology, there will be a 50 percent reduction in operating cost of locomotives even at the current enhanced LNG prices. There would be an elimination of visible smoke from these locomotives and significant reductions in other emissions, the ministry said.
At present, Railways runs its fleet of locomotives predominantly on diesel and electricity, the ministry said, adding that fuel prices have been rising due to factors like increasing prices of crude oil, imported coal and devaluation of rupee.
It said natural gas is emerging as a promising fuel of the future and added that with the introduction of economical processes of extraction of shale gas, exploitation of shale gas reserves has become a commercial reality.
India has substantial reserves of natural gas. According to an estimate, the country has 1241 billion cubic meters of conventional gas, 7462.5 billion cubic meters of recoverable shale gas reserves and 1890 trillion cubic meters of gas hydrates.
India is also setting up infrastructure for import of LNG into the country. LNG terminals are in various stages of setting-up on the east and west coasts of India, all with railway connectivity.
In a statement on Thursday, the Railway Ministry said once the prototype of Lucknow-based Research Design and Standard Organization (RDSO) is proven on field, Railways plans to build 20 LNG-based locomotives.