Railway engines ready to use gas from IGL

Vol 14, PW 14 (13 Jan 11) Midstream & Downstream

Railway engines in northern India could soon be using gas from GAIL and Bharat Petroleum joint venture Indraprastha Gas (IGL).

PETROWATCH learns state-owned Northern Railway is finalising plans to fit 35 of its diesel-fuelled railway engines with ‘gas conversion kits’ this year. This follows the completion of a successful pilot project in which IGL and Northern Railway collaborated to see if trains could run efficiently, mainly using clean-burning CNG instead of diesel.

In the 2005-06 fiscal, IGL and Northern Railway carried out a trial run using a single diesel-fuelled railway engine or ‘diesel electrical multiple unit.’ “A gas conversion kit was installed in the locomotive,” says an IGL source, “to convert CNG, instead of diesel, into fuel for the engine.

” Initially, IGL and Northern Railway ran the engine using a mix of 40% CNG and 60% diesel. But gradually they increased the proportion of CNG to 70% and reduced the amount of diesel to 30%.

“Railway authorities were very encouraged,” says IGL, “and asked us to set up a CNG station at the Shakurbasti railway station in Delhi.” But once IGL set up the CNG station, Northern Railway suddenly lost interest and didn’t buy much gas.

“They took CNG supplies sometimes,” recalls IGL, “but weren’t regular.” Then, in 2008, Northern Railway suddenly stopped buying gas and IGL had no news until late last year when Northern Railway just as suddenly became interested again.

Northern Railway, it appears, now plans to spend about Rs60cr ($13m) over the next two years to install CNG kits in all its diesel locomotives, especially ‘short-distance freight trains’, ‘shunting locomotives’ and “passenger trains that travel about 300-km daily.” Naturally, IGL is elated as a single diesel electrical multiple unit could use up to 1000-kg/day of CNG.

LNG Summit