The state-owned Indian Railways, one of the world’s largest train networks, is all set to shift to cleaner fuels by using natural gas instead of diesel, a senior official said on August 31. Indian Railways signed a pact with state-owned Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL) on August 30 to use natural gas in some of its operations as a start. “Indian Railways annually consumes about three billion litres of diesel. Through this green pact, Indian Railways will use natural gas in some of its operations with an aim to cut down emission levels,” the official said. Moreover, the use of natural gas will cut down fuel cost. “Using natural gas will be about 25 percent cheaper than the alternative fuels used by the railways at workshops and production units,” Chairman of Indian Railways board, Ashwani Lohani, told the media Thursday. Indian Railways crisscrosses the country from north to south. It operates some 9,000 passenger trains and carries nearly 23 million passengers every day. This vast public enterprise can be referred to as a semi-state. It runs schools, hospitals, has its own police force and construction companies, and has 1.3 million people on its payroll, making it the seventh biggest employer in the world. In 2015, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government pledged US$137 billion over five years to modernize and expand the railways.