Council on Energy, Environment and Water Integrated | International | Independent

Energy Policy Roadmap for the Indian Railways

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Interventions

Aditya Ramji, Rana Pujari, Shubhashis Dey, Vikas Gaba, Ajit Nafde, Varun Anand
November 2016 | Low-Carbon Pathways

Suggested citation: Ramji, Aditya, Rana Pujari, Shubhashis Dey, Vikas Gaba, Ajit Nafde, Varun Anand. 2016. Energy Policy Roadmap for the Indian Railways: Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Interventions. New Delhi: Council on Energy, Environment and Water.


This report, in collaboration with the Shakti Foundation, analyses the role of renewable energy and energy efficiency across the Indian Railways (IR) and their potential in reducing the emissions intensity of the rail transport sector in India. As part of its low carbon strategy, the IR plans to reduce emission intensity by 33 per cent in 2030. The study envisions the railway energy policy with goals for renewable energy, particularly solar, energy efficiency and emissions reduction. It also sets the tone for further discussions on the need for a comprehensive strategy around energy management in the IR. Further, it provides concrete recommendations to foster energy efficiency mechanisms in the railways while providing ideas to adopt alternative technologies for the traction of energy efficiency.

Key findings

  • During 2016, a target was set to reduce IR’s energy consumption such that it lowers the railways’ energy bill by USD 750 million within the next 5 years.
  • IR has established energy consumption standards for both traction and non-traction categories.
  • Energy audits have been conducted at various stations, workshops and factories to identify potential interventions for energy conservation and efficiency improvement.
  • IR has targeted 25 per cent savings in electricity consumption and traction energy efficiency by 2030.
  • IR is making efforts to increase renewable energy capacity, which includes solar power, wind energy, and waste-to-energy, to reduce energy costs as well as carbon emissions.
  • IR had set a 1 GW target for rooftop solar in railways stations, car sheds and railway workshops, and a 1.2 GW target of land-based solar PV across all railway zones.
  • IR’s power demand is projected to increase by  9GW from 2012 to 2032. It has a gross solar potential of 2.2 GW.
  • These set targets are expected to lead to the railways’ deriving 10 per cent of all electricity from renewables and reduce its emissions by 22MT.
  • IR would require an investment of USD 2.7 billion to achieve its solar potential. Further, by 2030 the railways’ could achieve 6 billion units of savings from energy efficiency measures.

Emissions savings (million tonnes of CO2) across railway operations with solar PV installations

Emissions savings (million tonnes of CO2) across railway operations with solar PV installations

Source: CEEW Analysis. 2016

Major barriers in implementing low carbon projects

  • Institutional barriers: Having a unified and centrally driven policy framework is crucial. Further, a structured institutional set-up to promote and drive energy-related initiatives is also needed to monitor the progress and efficacy of the initiatives.
  • Lack of incentives: Existing regulatory framework within the Indian Railways is not very clear on the incentive mechanism for the zones or divisions to implement such measures.
  • Financial barriers: Resources for the implementation of energy efficiency and clean energy measures are residual, and often inadequate. This is because infrastructure and maintenance get propriety when it comes to budget allocations.
  • Information and capacity barrier: With a large number of units such as stations, buildings, workshops, and yards and de-centralised procurement/inventory management systems, availability of baseline data is a key gap when it comes to energy initiatives.


  • Enhance skills of railway staff under the MoU with the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship. This could potentially transform the implementation of energy management initiatives across the railways.
  • Build on its MoU with Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) to benchmark minimum performance standards in terms of energy efficiency for various railway operations.


  • Leverage the technology portal developed by the National Academy of Indian Railways (NAIR) to promote R&D for energy conservation and efficiency.
  • Use the Innovation Council ‘Kayakalp’ in the Indian Railways to promote new ideas towards energy management.
  • Centralise procurement processes and handhold all zonal railways, as the internal capacity to implement such projects for each zone, will vary.
  • Align the energy management programme with national programmes such as in the case of the National Solar Mission to leverage technical knowledge and financial avenues available to the Government and other stakeholders.


  • Coordinate and engage closely with State Governments for resource mobilisation for energy management.
  • Explore long-term institutional investors as alternative financing sources.
  • Leverage the International Solar Alliance for access to international finance and technology transfer for renewable energy.
  • Identify low hanging solutions and their respective investment requirements which can then facilitate exploring innovative financing models under the financing cell instituted under the Railway Board, Ministry of Railways.

Indian Railways must set out appropriate guidelines for energy efficiency and management on its stations, yards, workshops, and operations in coordination with Zonal railways and other coordinating agencies at the Central and state level.

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