Mumbai: Railway stations to get solar power soon

The railways has sent the union ministry a list of stations that can accommodate solar panels for energy production

Prominent railway stations in the city such as Churchgate, Mumbai Central, Dadar, Andheri, Bandra and Borivli among others may soon be equipped with solar panels to generate electricity, confirmed railway officials.

If all goes as per plan, stations such as Andheri and Churchgate (above) will be powered by solar energy. File Pic
If all goes as per plan, stations such as Andheri and Churchgate (above) will be powered by solar energy. File Pic

The railways, which pay commercial electricity rates for the units of power they use to ply passengers, welcomed the proposal and has even decided to divert the electricity generated within their premises to the national grid. It has already sent a list of stations where solar energy panels can be installed for energy production, to the railway ministry.

The Western Railways has also sent a list of major stations that house a railway building within its premises, which includes stations such as Churchgate, Mumbai Central, Dadar and Andheri. “We have identified stations and have sent the list to the railway ministry.

The energy produced here will be sent to the national grid. The details are being worked upon,” confirmed Shailendra Kumar, Divisional Railway Manager, Western Railways, Mumbai Division. The plan comes close on the heels of the railways’ meeting with the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in Surat earlier this month, where the city’s locals made a presentation on how to transform local railway stations into world class ones.

Setting up solar panels
Solar panels can, on an average, generate 1 mega watt of electricity in an acre of land, which can power nearly 800-1,000 homes. The railways is currently finding out how many acres of land need to be allotted for the solar panels.

The railways has, in the past, made several appeals to the state government to address the issue of paying for power at commercial electricity rates, but was unable to get a positive response. “We pay Rs 9 per unit. This is a major burden for us.

We are serving the public, so we should be given electricity at subsidised rates. We hope the government pays heed to our requests,” said a senior official, on condition of anonymity. Earlier suggestions included installing a roof on railway platforms for the solar panels to be set up.

However, that plan was scrapped as the roofs aren’t strong enough to support the weight of the panels. As of now, it has been decided that the buildings’ rooftops will be used for generation of solar power.

Pilot Project Surat
The presentation that was made at the meeting between the railways and the PMO in Surat also had information on how to increase the number of platforms, services and buildings in railway stations. It suggested using the buildings for commercial purposes and also having a shopping mall. Another idea was to have cleaner, broader platforms. The railway authorities have given the proposal a thumbs up and claim that they will take it to the next level.

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