Trial runs of South India’s first solar powered coach has begun. Salem Divisional Railway Manager, Hari Shekhar Verma, said the coach was being run along the Jan Shatabdi route between Coimbatore and Mayiladuthurai on a daily basis. So far, the coach has been able to complete the entire route on solar power alone, said Verma. The division recently got the safety clearance to begin trial runs on this coach.
Admitting that projects to install solar powered coaches in North India had failed for multiple reasons, Verma, who was in the city on Thursday evening to inspect the Coimbatore Junction, said that trial runs in Salem have been satisfactory so far.
“Solar powered coaches cost around Rs 4.5lakh each. We are now trying to acquire a couple more coaches. We want to test performance when three solar powered coaches are linked,” said Verma.
Launched as part of the railways’ Go Green initiative on January 6, the coaches have 16 solar panels mounted on them, which would be capable of powering the lights and fans. They can also withstand wind velocities, vibrations and shocks when the train is running. However, the coach is running passenger-less currently. Ultimately, the railways plans to have six non-ac coaches powered fully by the solar panels.
The Salem division is also in the process of moving its goods station from Coimbatore North to Irugur completely, but is facing opposition from the Food Corporation of India, said the DRM. “The FCI, which is one of our biggest customers, says they have their godowns on Mettupalayam Road. So they would not be able to transport the goods to Irugur and then load them. So, they alone would continue to load at Coimbatore North,” said Verma. “Once some basic infrastructure like a level crossing is set up at Irugur for a full-fledged goods station, all other private players using railway services would be moved there,” he said.