As part of its green initiative, Indian Railways has announced plans to equip its entire fleet of over 1,000 AC coaches with eco-friendly refrigerant technology by March 2009.

The railway will use R-134 A refrigerant technology instead of the previous CFC-based refrigerant technology, which is harmful to the ozone layer.

A senior official in the Railway Ministry said the initiative was in line with the Montreal Protocol, of which India is a joint signatory.

“So far, 650 AC coaches have been converted to R-134 A refrigerant with the efforts put in by various railway zones,” the official said. “The rest are likely to be converted by March this year.”

Trains handled by East Coast Railways have already all been converted to the new technology.

“Not a single passenger service was affected during the conversion period,” officials said. “The conversion was done without replacing vital capital-intensive equipment, such as compressors, condenser unit and evaporator unit, of the refrigeration system.”

Various refrigerant technology options were tried in zonal railways in consultation with RDSO, the R&D wing of the railways. Railways had tested with R-22 gas for powering the AC system in the early nineties as it was less harmful than R-12 (CFC-based), however, R-134 A emerged as the best alternative.

By Daniel Garrun.