GUWAHATI, Aug 2 - As part of its initiative to save fuel and cut cost, the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) has expanded the use of Auxiliary Power Units (APUs) in diesel locomotives operated by the zone.
APUs have already been fitted in 94 out of the 399 diesel locomotives in the NFR zone for saving diesel consumption when the engines are kept in idle condition.
�Normally, a diesel engine consumes about 25 litres of diesel per hour when the train is not moving. But, with the use of APU, diesel consumption gets reduced by almost 90 per cent to just 2.5 litres per hour. Thus, huge quantities of diesel can be saved due to installation of APUs,� Subhanan Chanda, Chief Public Relations Officer (CPRO) of NFR, said.
The APU is a self-contained system with its own small diesel engine coupled to a low-capacity compressor and alternator to maintain the main reservoir pressure, besides for battery charging, for operating the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system in the driver�s cabin and for other small loads as per requirement. The main engine gets started only when it is actually required for movement.
�The central control system of the locomotive continuously monitors the battery status, engine temperature and idling status. If the engine idling time is more than 10 minutes, the system automatically shuts down the main engine and runs the APU engine. The APU has a baby compressor, which produces compressed air and feeds the locomotive�s main reservoir to compensate the formation leakages. When the APU engine is in operation, the system continuously monitors the critical parameters and ensures that they are within limits. If any of the monitored parameters deviate from the limits, the main engine starts automatically by stopping the APU engine,� Chanda said.
He added that Indian Railways is one of the biggest consumers of fossil fuel in the form of diesel.
�Thousands of diesel locomotives that are in operation and diesel-operated generators in Linke Hofmann Busch model trains consume a lot of diesel. However, of late, our NFR zone has taken various initiatives to reduce the use of fossil fuel in line with the environment-friendly policies of the Railway Ministry. This is expected not only to cut down the train operation costs, but also save foreign exchange reserves needed to import fossil fuel. Besides, this also helps reduce air pollution,� Chanda said.