Indian Railways’ alternative energy arm shuts on full electrification, muted performance

Indian Railways last week shut its alternative energy arm as it pursues its goal of full electrification of its network in two years. The surprise move was prompted partly by the perceived non-performance of the unit, railway officials said.

The closure of Indian Railways Organisation of Alternative Fuels (IROAF) doesn’t mean the scrapping of the national transporter’s dream of finding eco-friendly fuels to power the railroad network.

The transporter will continue to adopt a focussed approach towards hydrogen fuel cell technology, an Indian Railway official said on condition of anonymity.

The alternative energy research arm primarily focused on bio-diesel. It was closed because Indian Railways is chasing the goal of full electrification by 2023, slash its use of diesel and become a net zero emitter of carbon emission by 2030, the official said.

Railways has accelerated its pace of electrifying the network and producing electric locomotives. By the end of March 2021, 71 percent of the total network spanning 64,689 km had already been electrified.

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