New Delhi: For the past five decades, Indian Railways has faced increasing deficit in power supply, both for meeting its normal energy requirements as well as its peak load demand. According to a report released by Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, energy consumption in Indian Railways has increased at a faster rate than energy production over the last four decades. The electricity consumption for operational purpose (Traction) and Railways sector has increased by tenfold in last four decades.

Indian Railways, largest in Asia and the fourth largest in the world after United States, Russia and China, has 20059 route kms of its tracks under the electric traction system as on October 30th, 2010. It carries over 30 million passengers and 2.8 million tons of freight daily. The power consumption of the Indian Railways is around 2.5 percent of the country’s total electricity consumption. Electrified Route constitutes 31.33 percent of the total Railway Network and 37.98 percent of the BG System respectively. Over all about 60 percent of the freight and about 47 percent of passenger traffic is hauled by electric traction on Indian Railways.

According to an estimate, the railway sector’s demand for electricity will grow by seven percent annually and by 2020 it will have a projected energy demand of 37,500 kWh (million kilowatt hour).

Consumption of electricity by Traction and Railways in last five decades (Giga Watt hour)
1970 – 71

1975 – 76 
1980 – 81
1985 – 86 3,182
1990 – 91
1995 – 96    6,223
2000 – 01 8,213
2005 – 06 
2006 – 07
2007 – 08 
2008 – 09 
2009 – 10
2010 – 11 14,003
Source: Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation

Power supply

Indian Railways purchase power from various Electricity boards and other Electric Supply Authorities. Annually, approximately 30 billion units of electricity is consumed by Indian Railways, out of which 10.4 billion units are used for electric traction purpose. Indian Railways pays over Rs 5,000 crores every year on account of traction energy charges which constitutes about 20 percent of total revenue budget of Railways.

History of electrification

Indian Railways has the second biggest electrified system in the world after Russia. The first electric train ran between Bombay Victoria Terminus and Kurla along the Harbour Line of Central Railway on February 3, 1925, a distance of 9.5 miles. In 1926, Thana and Mahim were connected. In 1927, electrification was complete up to Kalyan. In 1930, the Kalyan - Poona tracks were opened to electric trains. The first electric train in India was ‘Deccan Queen’. It was introduced on June 1, 1930, between Bombay and Poona (now Pune).

On November 15, 1931, electrification of the meter gauge track between Madras Beach and Tambaram was inaugurated. By 1953, electrification of Howrah-Burdwan via Bandel, Sheoraphulli-Tarakeshwar started. The electrification work between Burdwan-Mughalsarai was completed in 1957. Howrah-Gaya was electrified by about 1960. Electrification till Kanpur was done by 1972. The entire Howrah-Delhi route was electrified on August 5, 1976. The Bombay-Delhi route was electrified by February 1, 1988. The Central Railway route was fully electrified by June 1990.

(Abhinav Ranjan/JPN)

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