Indian Railways is planning to manufacture dual-mode engines that operate both on diesel, and by drawing power through overhead wires on electrified routes.
Similar locomotives are operational in the US and South Africa, and they will be manufactured by Indian Railways for the first time.
The pilot project will involve Railways manufacturing five dual-mode locomotives, each with a capacity of 4500 horsepower, at the Diesel Locomotive Works (DLW) in Varanasi.
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As of now, 52 percent of trains in India run on diesel. When the routes get electrified, the diesel locomotives are replaced by electric engines. But with dual mode locomotives, there will be no need for changing them as the same engine can be used on the electric route as well. According to reports, the dual-mode locomotives will cost Rs. 18 crore. A 4500 HP diesel locomotive costs about Rs 13 crore.
The proposal has been forwarded to the Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO), which is the research wing of Indian Railways. After their approval, DLW will manufacture five such locomotives on a pilot basis. They will run on some electrified routes for trial.
These engines will be heavier that the diesel ones, and are expected to run at a maximum speed of 135 km per hour.
A diesel engine is the prime mover in case of diesel locomotives, while an electric locomotive operates on power drawn through a pantograph, which is an apparatus on the roof of electric vehicles to draw power from an overhead wire.