The United States has the world’s largest network of railway lines with a total of 139,679 miles (224,792 km) followed by China at 69,593 miles (112,000 km), Russia at 53,437 miles (86,000 km) and India at 40,891 miles (65,808 km). With China and India showing the largest growth rates it’s inevitable their rail networks will grow significantly in coming decades.
In order to make India’s railways most efficient India is modernizing its rails through the use of new technologies including solar panels, satellite technology and more.
The Future of Solar Powered Trains
Indian Railways recently announced a plan to put solar panels on the roofs of 500 trains to generate electricity; the plan is now partially implemented. This came after a recent decision to install 500 MW of solar capacity panels on train station rooftops in India. According to sources at Indian Railways, trains have batteries attached to the coaches so that electricity generated from solar panels will power these batteries to run fans and lights but will not yet provide power for locomotives.
Indian Railways also announced its intention to use at least 10% of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020. The current Indian Railway budget includes plans for the first 1,000 MW solar plant to be used by Indian Railways.
Making Train Lines Safer
In another development, engineers from the Varanasi Diesel Locomotive Company in New Delhi are now using satellite technology to warn train engineers when tracks are impassable. The service is similar to that used to track airplanes in the sky, warning pilots to take evasive action when planes come to close.
These new project, and many more like them, are being touted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi whose mission is to provide the affordable and safe delivery of technology and services to all Indians, especially the poorest.
The following video shows the trials of solar panels on Indian Railways trains: