How India electrified 45% of its railway network in just five years

Wed, 13 Mar 2024 11:40:53 +1100

Andrew Pam <xanni [at]>

Andrew Pam

"Electric rail transportation was first introduced in India all the way back in
1925, when a 16km section of railway was electrified to provide a rapid
suburban service from the suburbs of Mumbai (then Bombay) into the city.

Between independence in 1947 and the early years of the 21st century,
electrification efforts were largely focused on commuter and major intercity
lines, gradually progressing as a part of Indian Railways’ strategic five-year

In January 2015, though, everything changed. The national Railway Board
established an Environment Directorate to coordinate environmental initiatives
across the Indian Railways network. At this point, locomotives were a mixture
of diesel and electric, with around 45% of the rail network electrified.

Until the 1980s, the network had been largely steam-powered. Modernisation
efforts introduced the diesel locomotive – but this brought with it new
problems related to energy security. With the fourth-largest coal reserves in
the world, India was able to power its own trains when they were run on steam.
However, the country has an 80% dependence on imports for crude oil.

New, centralised investment from the Environment Directorate saw the rate of
electrification increase substantially. Between 2019 and 2023, it increased at
a rate of 16 route kilometres (rkm) per day, nearly twice the rate of
electrification over the previous five-year period, and nine-times quicker than
the period before that."

Via Future Crunch:

       *** Xanni ***
--               Andrew Pam                 Chief Scientist, Xanadu            Partner, Glass Wings               Manager, Serious Cybernetics

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