indian railways, digital india, suresh prabhu, indian economy, modi, railway employees
Commuters disembark from a crowded suburban train at Churchgate railway station in Mumbai, India, February 25, 2016. Suburban train commuters offer a big opportunity for the government to drive digital economy, as about 80 lakh of them use trains every year, spending close to Rs 2,000 crore.Reuters file

The Indian Railways has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with state-owned utility Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL).

The Indian Railways is taking up eco-friendly measures in its workshops, production units and depots by using natural gas with very little carbon while burning. It has been muting this idea of replacing the industrial gases such as dissolved acetylene, LPG and furnace oil/high-speed diesel (HSD) with eco-friendly natural gas for a long time.

Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani announced that almost 23 workshops will use natural gas by year end under the first phase of the project. He also said that the facility will be expanded to all 54 workshops production units and railway establishments including base-kitchens, hostels and guest houses by June 30 next year.

According to the chairman, the use of natural gas could help the railway replace fuel worth Rs. 70 crore per annum. He also informed that GAIL, along with the Indian Railways Organization for Alternate Fuel (IROAF), would come up with a project report related to this issue by September 30.

A pilot project for the supply of natural gas has commenced in Matunga, Mumbai and Kota Rajasthan. The carriage repair workshop at Matunga has started using Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) as an alternative to dissolving acetylene and Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).

The step can help the repair workshop to save an annual amount of Rs.20 lakh. Similarly, Kota workshop could save Rs. 21 lakh annually by using natural gas.

Lohani also highlighted that Rail Wheel Factory in Bengaluru has saved 410 kilolitres of HSD per month, saving nearly Rs. 8 to 10 crore and reduced CO2 emissions by around 28 percent. He also added that piped natural gas has been provided to around 1100 houses at the railway colony in Bhubaneswar.