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Railways to plug into the sun to power Churchgate station

Churchgate is soon to become the first railway station in Western Railway’s Mumbai division to harness solar energy to power electric equipment on its premises, such as train indicators, lights, fans and other electric equipment on the station premises.


Light management systems, fans, train indicators and other electric equipment on platforms will be operated through solar energy

Railway officials said they have long been working toward tapping alternative energy to reduce dependence on fuels and the power grid. “Due to our continuous efforts, we have saved approximately 4.44 million units of electricity which cost around Rs 2.88 crore in non-traction energy. Also, we have been able to save Rs 36 crore per year in the field of traction energy through the various steps we are taking or will take in future,” said a WR official.

Though the proposal is still in the works, officials hope it would be ready in the coming year. “Already, there is shortage of electricity and for that we have to look at options to save money and provide optimum facility to our passengers. If this implementation proves successful, we will apply the same innovation at other railway stations,” added the official.

Railway officials said that even the electric paraphernalia inside offices at the station would be run on the solar energy power system. “This will help reduce consumption of electricity and will be used only when required,” adds the official. Other than indicators and fans, light-emitting diodes (LED) to display station names, star-rated air-conditioned units, geysers, and light management systems on platforms will also be operated through this clean source of energy.

Sharat Chandrayan, chief public relations officer, Western Railway, said, “It is an important green initiative which will not only help in cutting down the electricity bill but will also lead to a pollution-free environment.” The Central Railway has also been able to decrease its unit consumption by use of solar energy in its offices.

Its Mumbai division’s non-traction energy consumption this year is 245 lakh units, down by last year’s 263 lakh units. Even with an increase of 3 per cent in load, the energy consumption has reduced by 7.1 per cent. “This has been achieved because of taking several energy conservation measures,” said A K Singh, public relatins officer, Central Railway.

Heat over glasshouse
In June 2012, bowing to pressure from employee unions, the WR administration finally decided to remove the glass panels on its renovated façade and replace them with something that would provide light and ventilation and not ‘stifle’ the workers inside, as was their gripe. The glass panels had been installed over three years ago at a cost of Rs 2 crore, which came from taxpayers. It has been reported earlier that ever since the draping of the building was completed, employees have been fuming, as they have had to sweat it out in the glasshouse.

Sunny side
If the solar energy system works well at Churchgate, the initiative will be expanded to make the following provisions:
>> Installing solar panels to run 140 level crossings
>> 10 kilowatt-peak (kWp) solar power systems at 20 stations
>> 100 kWp solar power supply system at Churchgate station
(kWp: A measure of the peak performance output of a photovoltaic system, such as a solar energy system

Did you know?
The Western Railway network comprises 1,15,000 km of tracks over a route that stretches for 65,000 km and has 7,500 stations.

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