Delhi’s Light Rail Schedule Now Includes Solar Powered Coaches

Light rail coach with solar panels powering its passenger coaches in New Delhi, India.
Image: Twitter

Indian Railways has nurtured the successful installation of solar rooftop arrays on light rail cars, reducing diesel reliance in Delhi, India.

In July Indian Railways introduced New Delhi to light rail trains with solar powered coaches. The rooftop solar arrays power lights, fans and information displays inside passenger coaches. The transportation agency has announced that before the end of the year, the city will have 25 solar-powered coaches running on suburban railway links of Delhi’s Northern Railway.

It takes 16 solar panels to replace the diesel generators that power light rail appliances inside the passenger coaches. Six solar-powered coaches are expected to reduce diesel usage by 21,000 litres each year, according to Quartz India. Saving about 85,000 litres per year is a small amount when you consider that Indian Railways in a given year, the Indian Railways transportation network might use more than 2.6 billion litres of diesel, based on 2014 figures.

The Indian Railways Organisation for Alternate Fuels, a bureau of the agency, has previously explored bio-diesels and other alternative fuels for India’s immense rail network. But, the state’s transportation system has a goal to generate 1,000 megawatts (MW) of solar power by 2020, and scale up to 5,000 MW by 2025.

Currently, Indian Railways has nearly 255 MW of rooftop solar and 250 MW of land-based solar projects planned, with about 130 MW of project capacity awarded. Outfitting light rail trains with rooftop solar for powering coaches was reported to be an accomplished engineering challenge:

It is not an easy task to fit solar panels on the roof of train coaches that run at a speed of 80 km per hour. Our engineering skills were put to a real test during the execution of this rooftop solar project for Indian Railways,” Sundeep Gupta, vice-chairman and managing director of Jakson Engineers told the Business Standard.

Previously, Greenpeace India added rooftop solar panels to a #GoSolar demonstration bus, which is outfitted as a solar-powered home.

In the U.S. solar is used to offset other transit energy needs, such as bus stop signage:

Solar Clocks for Bus Stops

More energy efficiency innovations from New Delhi:

New Delhi Biogas Plant to Make Cooking Fuel from Food Waste

About the author

Andrea Fox

Andrea Fox

Andrea Fox is Editor of and Senior Editor at Lexipol. She is based in Massachusetts.