Top 5- Key Initiatives By Indian Railways To Reduce Impact On Environment

Highlights :

  • While solar remains the lynchpin of Indian railways green initiatives, the railways is doing much more to remove the soot from its image as the largest coal transporter.
Top 5- Key Initiatives By Indian Railways To Reduce Impact On Environment No more free rides for railways for power purchase

The Indian Railways have been hard at work with their green push, with the electrification of the Indian railways nearing 100% soon. That will make the railways the world’s largest green network. However, that is not the only green push the railways have been involved with. Today, we look at some of the major initiatives that are contributing to lessening the tremendous impact of the Railways on the environment. Keep in mind that the biggest challenge before the railways, of being the transporter of choice for the almost billion tonnes of coal that will be moved around the country for its power sector in the years to come to 2030, is something  even the railways cannot do much about.

5) Electrification of Trains

Part of the movement to transform Indian railways into “Green Railways”, Railways has managed to electrify over 95% of Broad Gauge(BG) routes to date. This has facilitated elimination of diesel traction resulting in a significant reduction of carbon emissions from trains. As of 2024, India stands at over 45,000 km of track electrified. Technologies like Head On Generation have helped further the power savings by eliminating the need for a power car. Carbon footprint reduction currently stands at almost 32 million tons per annum.

4) Solar Energy To Drive Railway Operations 

IR plans to set up solar plants on unused Railway land, hoping to set up 20 GW to meet its traction power requirement by 2030.To proliferate these pilot projects, IR has initially planned to set up 3 GWp of land based solar plants in 3 phases along with a storage based solar project. A pilot project to procure 150 MW of continuous renewable power is also being planned. Floating solar plants, solar rooftops across stations and many more solar linked initiatives have been started to tap into the Sun’s energy for the railways. Expect these initiatives to get a massive boost in the 2024 Budget, as the railways seeks faster progress on this.

3) Dedicated Freight Corridors

Developed as a low carbon green transportation network, dedicated freight corridors are being developed from Ludhiana to Dankuni(Eastern dedicated freight corridor) 1875 km) and from Dadri to Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (Western Dedicated Freight Corridor) 1506 km).  These will enable the shift of freight traffic from road to rail from 30% to 45%, shifting cargo to a non-polluting greener transportation system. As of 2024, over 90% of the DFC has been completed out of the total 2843 km target.


2) Transporting trucks through trains

The railways is not just about competing with trucks. It is also into working with them to reduce emissions. Variously termed the ‘Truck on Train’ service or the ‘Roll On Roll Off’ (RoRo)service, the railways allows trucks to spend part of their journey on goods trains, saving them time, money, wear and tear, and of course reducing emissions. launched as far back as 1999, the RoRo service  has proven to be beneficial for freight transporters as it combines the best features of both; the main haul by rail and first and last-mile connectivity by road while reducing diesel consumption and carbon emissions. The completion and launch of the new dedicated freight corridors is expected to give this service a major fillip by overcoming some of the challenges like slow movement and unpredictable schedules, so expect a significant impact to roll in here soon.


  1. Railways and Water

A key impact area for the railways has been water, thanks to the sheer size of the world’s fourth largest network and keeping it clean and running. The railways has been aware of the challenge, and taken multiple steps to reduce or eliminate wastage of water. Be it mechanised cleaning of coaches to reduce wastage, installation of automatic coach washing plants to reduce use, to pressurised water filling that reduces time and wastage, the railways is serious about saving and conserving water. A big area for work is rainwater harvesting, thanks to the large tracts of land the railways sits on through its stations and more.


Yash Singh

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