The Indian Railway (IR) system, the largest rail network in Asia and typically filled with diesel-powered trains, has just introduced its first solar-powered train, named the Diesel Electric Multiple Unit (DEMU). The DEMU, which has solar panels placed on the roof of the unit, will operate in the city of New Delhi. It will be pulled by one of IR’s diesel-powered locomotives, with the solar panels powering only the passenger comfort systems (including lights, info displays, fans, etc.). According to IR, one train with six solar-panel equipped cars will save 21,000 liters (or 5,547 gallons) of diesel fuel every year, all while saving approximately Rs12 lakh (almost $20,000) in operating costs.
According to Sandeep Gupta, Vice Chairman and Managing Director of Jakson Engineers Limited (the company that produced and took on the challenge of installing the solar panels) told Business Standard, “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.” For reference, not only is Indian Railways the largest rail network in Asia, they also run roughly 11,000 trains a day, moving about 13 million passengers daily. IR hopes that the solar train car will save them Rs41,000 crore (or $6.31 billion) over the next decade after spending Rs16,395 crore ($2.5 billion) on diesel in 2015 alone.