Decarbonization of Indian Railways: Conference Draft

Indian Railways (IR) is currently the world’s second largest railway network and is the single largest consumer of electricity in India, consuming about 18 TWh per year, or roughly 2% of the country’s total power generation. IR also consumes 2.6 billion liters of diesel annually, or 3.2% of the total diesel consumption of the transport sector in India. In addition, the energy demand of IR is expected to triple by 2030 to 49 TWh due to increasing passenger volume. Indian Railways is the single largest consumer of electricity in India. Prioritizing decarbonization of IR would help India achieve its carbon emissions reduction targets. Because of the volume of IR’s energy consumption, prioritizing decarbonization of Indian Railways could help India achieve its 2030 emissions reduction goals as well as improve energy security by reducing fossil fuel imports. In addition, decarbonization may be a more cost-effective option that is cheaper than the business-as-usual scenario for IR in the long run. This report, identified different potential pathways to decarbonization of IR by 2030 and examined their cost-effectiveness and feasibility. A first and essential step to decarbonization of IR is to transition to an electrified rail network, and away from a diesel-powered rail network.