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IESL proposes railway electrification project

To cover Panadura, Colombo and Veyangoda:

The Institution of Engineers Sri Lanka (IESL) has made a fresh initiative to propose a Railway Electrification Project to the Government.

It has come consented to act as a catalyst throughout the project planning and implementation stages.


Electric trains cost effective than diesel locomotives

IESL President Prof Ananda Jayawardena said the initial project will cover Panadura-Colombo-Veyangoda areas and the total cost of the project is estimated to be Rs 5,222 million. The annual savings that will accrue to the country would be Rs 304 million, at the present costs of diesel and electricity.

Elaborating on the benefits he said at the present prices of diesel at Rs 73 per litre and the average price of electricity of Rs 15.50 per kwh, the energy cost saving per train-km is estimated to be Rs 190.

Electric traction creates much less pollution than diesel traction and is less noisy. For passengers, there would be less vibration resulting in faster, more comfortable, smoother and quieter train travel.

Although their initial capital costs would be high, the operational lives of electric trains will be longer than fossil fuel counterparts due to the fewer number of moving parts and modular units used, so in the longer term they will be more cost efficient.

With electric traction it is also possible to further increase efficiency through regenerative braking, which means that a slowing-down train can use its electric motors as generators and recycle energy back into the system for other electric trains to use.

The electricity demand for railway operations would be mostly between 6am to 8am and 5pm to 7pm, which are off peak hours as far as other consumers are concerned. Thus there would be no additional burden on the existing power plants as their base capacities would be sufficient to meet the requirements of electric traction.

Prof Jayawardena said this proposal on railway electrification would be very cost effective in that it recommends the use of existing local resources, both material and manpower, as much as possible to minimise the costs concerned.

This segment of railway track that has the highest passenger use with a route length of 64 kilometres, a little more than 50 kilometres, the right length that will keep the capital investments within manageable limits.

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