New Delhi: The Central Government may announce hydrogen-powered trains and 300 new MEMU services in the Union Budget for the 2023-24 fiscal year.
It is learnt that Railway authorities have given directions to the zonal units to make ready 20 new hydrogen trains. As per the plan the first hydrogen train — one that uses hydrogen as a fuel — could be in operation from December 2023.
The first service will be from Sonipat to Jind in Haryana, covering about 89 kilometres.
Though the earlier plan was to announce them on the next Independence Day, it has now been decided to declare their launch in the final complete budget presentation before the 2024 general election. The Railways aims to manufacture such trains in India in future under the ‘Make in India’ scheme. Hydrogen trains are environment-friendly as they don't cause atmospheric pollution at all.
Vande Bharat plans on slow track
Meanwhile, the inability to make Vande Bharat coaches as demanded by the ministry has put the Railways in a fix. Even though the Government had declared that 75 Vande Bharat Express trains would be operated before the next August 15, only 7 could be brought on the tracks so far.
However, the Ministry may announce 300 new Vande Bharat trains in the budget. There are strict orders that lack of funds should not be a hindrance for Vande Bharat coach production.
Sufficient number of coaches cannot be manufactured despite round-the-clock work at the Integral Coach Factory (ICF), Perambur in Tamil Nadu. Semi-high-speed trains are run under the Vande Bharat brnd. MEMU, or Mainline Electric Multiple Unit, trains service short distances in semi-urban and rural areas.