Huge opportunity as rail workshops switch to CNG

Vol 22, PW 20 (25 Jul 19) Midstream & Downstream

Anyone in search of a new industrial customer for CNG could do worse than approach Indian Railways.

This report learns the world’s fourth largest rail network operator is on track to replace industrial gas with natural gas at 23 of 54 workshops across the country by December 31 (2019) after reporting "excellent" results during trial runs at three facilities. "Not only has metal-cutting improved by using CNG," a source from Indian Railways Organisation for Alternate Fuels (IROAF) tells us.

"But we are also making Rs1cr/year ($150,000) savings at these three workshops." Last year (2018) Indian Railways hand-picked three metal-cutting workshops at Matunga in Mumbai, Lallguda in Secunderabad and Kota in Rajasthan to roll out its CNG programme - with impressive results.

"Seventy percent of cutting work is now done by CNG," adds our source. "For technical reasons the remaining 30% is still done by Dissolved Acetylene (DA) or BMCG (Bharat Metal Cutting Gas)."

Over the next three to five years, he adds, Indian Railways has chalked out plans for CNG to replace 844,027 cubic metres of acetylene, 2.4m-kg LPG, 141,000-kg of BMCG and 5500-kilo litres of diesel/furnace oil, for which it pays around Rs70cr/year ($10m). "Replacing these fuels with CNG," we hear, "will result in savings of Rs20cr/year ($3m)."

Indian Railways has also replaced diesel and furnace oil with CNG to fire furnaces at its Bengaluru train wheel factory.