Indian Railways (IR) will spend $335 million on 35 new hydrogen trains that will travel over many of the country’s narrow-gauge “heritage” routes, making it the largest hydrogen train operator in the world.
The Vande Metro train, which is scheduled to begin service at the end of this year, would cost up to 800 million rupees ($9.7 million), according to Ashiwini Vaishnaw, India’s minister for railways. India would be used for the design and building of the Vande Metro trains, according to the ministry. The trains will travel over some or all of India’s seven “heritage” lines, which are found in hilly, rural areas of the country, as part of the “Hydrogen for Heritage” program.
Vaishnaw did not specify what exactly these modifications to the ground infrastructure may entail, but they will raise the price of each route that is converted by an additional 700 million rupees ($8.5m). IR would become the world’s largest operator of hydrogen trains after switching to H2, even though the locomotives would travel a variety of routes. Even though it has not yet been determined how many of the heritage routes will be converted, IR received a significant budget of 2.4 trillion rupees ($29.1 billion) in India’s most recent annual finance bill.
Broad-gauge railroads across the nation will be 83% electrified by December 2022, exceeding the nation’s target of 100% electrification. The narrow-gauge heritage routes can be difficult to electrify due to their remote locations, limited space, and/or difficult terrain.
The Indian government has also given its clearance to a $13.2 million project to retrofit H2 fuel cells into multiple diesel-electric multiple units (DEMUs) for a portion of the Northern Railway between Jind and Sonipat, just outside of New Delhi.
DEMU trains are not required to have a locomotive because the engine is built into the carriages.
The seven heritage lines of Indian Railways include the Matheran Hill Railway, Kangra Valley, Bilmora Waghai, Marwar-Devgarh Madriya, Nilgiri Mountain Railway, Kalka Shimla Railway, and Darjeeling Himalayan Railway.