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Salem division to get solar-based level crossings

According to reports, Salem division of the southern railway is all set to run its 347 level crossing gates on solar power. The first six solar-powered level crossings will be functional soon on the Coimbatore-Mettupalayam stretch. Tenders have been invited to install the solar-powered signals at six railway crossings at Sanganur, Thudiyalur, Kongunadu College premises, NGGO Colony, Karamadai and PN Palayam.

During the presentation of Railway Budget 2013-14, then railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal had announced railways plan to harness solar power to energize 1,000 level crossings in the country to help the railways avail fiscal incentives, including tax breaks and depreciation benefits, besides a chance to earn carbon credits.

According to officials, solar lighting system would be used at level crossing gates. They will be equipped with solar panels, which will have charge control, back-up battery and LED light fittings. The solar panels will have the capacity to generate 1 KW power.The initiative is part of the railways’ pro-environment action plan and energy conservation measures to use renewable energy sources.

“In the first phase, level crossings in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal will be powered with solar energy. We have 347 level crossings under Salem division and they will be converted to solar-based in phase 1,” said a top official.

“An amount of Rs 20 lakh has been earmarked for the solar-powered level crossings, which is actually insufficient. However, we can at least begin the new initiative. A tender for purchasing and installing the solar system has been announced and the conversion works will be carried out phase-by-phase,” the official added.

“It would be of a great use for both engine drivers and signal operators. At present, the signal operators use kerosene lamps for signaling and each lamp requires 150 ml kerosene per night. However, drivers complain of poor visibility,” says Jameel Ahammed of Coimbatore railway passenger user committee.

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