In a move to cut-down its fuel bill and move towards cleaner environment, railways will promote the use of alternative fuels like bio-diesel in a big way for its fleet of diesel locomotives. The transporter, which is the single largest bulk consumer of diesel in the country, has announced its decision to blend 5% bio-diesel with diesel.

Currently, the transporter consumes around 2.5 billion litres diesel to run its fleet of diesel locos and the 5% blending needs availability of around 115 million litres of bio-diesel. "Besides bio-fuel, solar energy will also be harnessed in a big way. Our aim is to cut energy cost and reduce the carbon footprint and we are taking a series of steps in this direction," said railways minister Suresh Prabhu.

The transporter's energy bill is about Rs 30,000 crore in a year out of which diesel costs are around Rs 18,000 crore.

At present, per litre bio-diesel costs are seven rupees less than diesel. While railways buys diesel at Rs 59 per litre, bio-diesel is Rs 52 only.

This means even a small reduction in fuel consumption through blending with bio-diesel is expected to result in substantial savings for the railways in the fuel bill as well as lower carbon emission.

On world environment day, Prabhu announced that railways will also carry out an energy audit and water audit to reduce its consumption. "Water crisis is a big issue and we will be doing water audit in eight water-stressed states. Steps need to be taken to recycle water, among other steps to manage water crisis," he said.

The minister also informed that all new railway buildings will be constructed as per green building norms with provision of plenty of natural light, solar panels, water conservation system among others.

Source: June 6, 2015, The Times of India