Lithium-Ion Batteries for Indian Railways Shunters

The Chittaranjan  Locomotive Works of the Indian Railways will be buildig 10 locomotives that would operate using Lithium-Ion battery packs. As the range of these locomotives would be limited, they would be used mainly for shunting in stations or for short haul duties. Presently Indian Railways uses diesel locomotives for shunting which are not fuel efficient and also add green house gases and particulate matter into the atmosphere. These locomotives are capable of pulling 24 passenger coaches or 58 BOXN type wagons.

The Kanchrapara Railway Workshop of Eastern Railways has already converted a one motor coach of the Electric Multiple Unit (EMU) to work as a 25 KV/ Wireless shunting engine. This motor coach was selected because it has an AC traction motor installed and has sufficient space to install the requisite battery pack. This locomtive is called the “Dual Mode Shunting Locomotive”  DMSL by the Indian Railways. This locomotive can either use the 25 KV overhead traction supply or the onboard batteries as required. The changeover is through a simple switch provided onboard. The main advantages of this locomotive as per the railways are: –

  • Improved operational flexibility in last mile operation in goods yards, sidings and in shunting operation which are non-electrified.
  • Dependency on diesel locos will not be there. Further; the population of diesel locos are decreasing as same are being phased out for various reasons.
  • Free of Air & Noise Pollution which is prime concern in station area.

The battery set has a power rating of 718 HP and is expected to be used for between 3 and 5 hours only. It is a 750 V pack with a capacity of 3,000 A-h. These batteries alone are expected to weigh 26.88 tons. The traction motor supplied by over head cables will be used for the rest of the period. In the 25 KV mode the locomotive will have a power rating of 1,318 HP. The DMSL is expected to weigh around 86 tons. It will have a maximum operating speed of 100 km/h in 25 KV AC mode and 30 km/h in the battery only mode.

With the Indian Railways focus on electrification and de-dieselification, this is a welcome step in the direction of developing a new technology for locomotives.

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