Railway Ministry plans to send the proposal to upgrade infrastructure on New Delhi-Howrah and New Delhi-Mumbai routes to the CCEA. In the next four years, you can hope to reach Mumbai from Delhi in just 10 hours boarding a superfast train. Similarly, the journey from Delhi to Howrah could be completed in just 12 hours.
NEW DELHI: Indian Railways to reduce Delhi-Mumbai, Delhi-Howrah travel time by 5 hours! Two of the busiest routes on the Indian Railways network – Delhi-Howrah and Delhi-Mumbai – are set for a massive infrastructure upgrade in the coming years, with speeds being raised to 160 kmph on the important routes. According to a 100-day roadmap drawn by Indian Railways on PM Narendra Modi’s instructions, the train travel time on the above-mentioned routes will come down by 5 hours. The 100-day plan document of the Railway Board, envisages an investment of around Rs 14,000 crore for this massive project.
Delhi-Mumbai, Delhi-Howrah trains: Travel in just 10-12 hours!
Piyush Goyal-led Railway Ministry plans to send the proposal to upgrade infrastructure on New Delhi-Howrah and New Delhi-Mumbai routes to the Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs for approval. The project, once complete, will reduce the train travel time between New Delhi-Howrah to 12 hours from the existing 17 hours. The train journey time between New Delhi-Mumbai may come down to as low as 10 hours from the present 15.5 hours.
According to the national transporter’s estimates, Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Howrah routes account for nearly 30% of passenger traffic and 20% of freight traffic. While the upgradation of railway infrastructure on the New Delhi-Howrah route (1,525 kilometres) will entail an expenditure of Rs 6,684 crore, the New Delhi-Mumbai project (1,483 kilometres) will require Rs 6,806 crore.
The document states that the ambitious project will be undertaken in a fixed time, fixed cost EPC contract basis over a time span of 4 years from the date of approval. The national transporter is of the view that this format will help reduce delays and cost overrun while also ensuring better coordination and economies of scale.
Indian Railways has been upgrading its rolling stock and one of the biggest technological leaps for it was the introduction of the self-propelled Vande Bharat Express on the Delhi-Varanasi route. Banking on the success of the Train 18 project, Indian Railways is now looking to manufacture Train 19, which will be a Rajdhani Express-style sleeper variant of the Vande Bharat Express. Train 19 is being planned for the Delhi-Mumbai route with the hope of bringing travel time down.
Even as it brings its rolling stock up to world-standards, railway experts have time and again stressed on the need to invest in rail infrastructure such as tracks, signalling and fencing so that the average speed of trains on the Golden Quadrilateral can be increased. The identification of the Delhi-Mumbai, Delhi-Howrah routes for the 160 kmph upgrade is an important step in that direction.
Rajdhani, now the fastest train
The railways has set the target to increase the maximum speed of trains on these routes to 160 kmph to cut down the travel time between the national capital and financial capital by five hours and save five-and-half-hours’ journey time between Delhi and Kolkata. The fastest trains now (Rajdhani) can run at maximum speed of 130 kmph.
This is among the clutch of proposals that the railways has finalised as a part of its 100-day agenda under the second edition of the Narendra Modi government. The railways estimates to spend about Rs 13,500 crore in shoring up the national transporter’s infrastructure over the next four years.
Shoring up Infrastructure
According to a circular issued by Railway Board chairman, VK Yadav, enhancing the track infrastructure on these two busy routes is necessary as they account for nearly 30% of passenger and 20% of total freight traffic on the rail network.
Officials were instructed to initiate immediate action to start implementing the plans by August 31 and the ministry has sent the proposals to the Prime Minister’s Office.
Sources said Yadav shared the details of the targets including the plan to bring in private players to run passenger trains on select routes at a meeting of Group of Secretaries on infrastructure.
Railways will open up the passenger segment for private entities and the plan to launch a mega campaign to pursue people to give up the concessions that they can avail while buying tickets.
Other targets includes obtaining cabinet approval for a digital corridor for railways with provision of 10 MHz spectrum in 700 MHz frequency band for railways which would enable it to increase trains’ carrying capacity due to increase speed potential, improve operation during fog and improved security.
Other proposals include providing wifi at all 6,485 railway stations, starting a pilot for an advanced signalling system; jump starting the process redevelopment of 50 railways stations and restructuring of the railway board.