Bullet train project part of India’s developmental plans: Piyush Goyal

Goyal, who has an active presence on social media, gave a 884-word defence of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail (MAHSR), popularly known as the ‘Bullet Train’.

NEW DELHI: Railway Minister Piyush Goyal today defended the Centre’s decision to launch bullet train project in India, stating that it was part of the country’s developmental plans.

He was replying to a query on Quora, a website where users ask questions and invite answers from the online community – “Does India actually need a bullet train”?

Goyal, who has an active presence on social media, gave a 884-word defence of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail (MAHSR), popularly known as the ‘Bullet Train’. He also included several graphics with pictures of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to illustrate his point.

“India is a rapidly developing economy with numerous developmental needs. A major component of India’s developmental plan is the upgradation of current rail networks as well as the development of new high speed rail corridors popularly known as bullet trains.

“The Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail project is a visionary project by the NDA government which will herald a new era of safety, speed and service for the people, and help the Indian Railways become an international leader in scale, speed and skill,” Goyal said.

He said although introduction of a technology is often met with resistance but it eventually goes on to usher in change.

“New technology has not always been adopted easily, and has at most times seen resistance. However, history shows us that new technology and advancements are highly beneficial for the country,” he said.

The railway minister cited the example of the start of the Rajdhani Trains in 1968 which was opposed by many including the chairman of the railway board.

“Such things keep India backward. But today, they are the trains that everyone wishes to travel in,” the minister said.

Giving another example, Goyal argued that many thought India was not ready for new technology like mobile phones, but today India is the second largest market for such phones in the world with almost every Indian owning a mobile phone set.

“Similarly, the bullet train project will also help railways revolutionise every passenger’s journey,” he said.

Goyal also gave a detailed report of how bullet train is a “low-cost project”, how it will promote Modi’s ‘Make in India’ doctrine, work with cutting edge Japanese technology and usher in economic growth by creating thousands of jobs.

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Railways target completing Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train project by August 2022

NEW DELHI: Unfazed by opposition criticism, Indian Railways is working overtime to push ahead with the much-talked about the “Bullet Train” project, aiming to complete it ahead of the August 2022 deadline set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani, who has a reputation of a turnaround man, has taken up the task of monitoring and chairing the periodic review meetings of the project that is estimated to cost over Rs 1 lakh crore ($15 billion).

Lohani held a high-level meeting in Rail Bhavan last Thursday which was attended by Japanese Ambassador Kenji Hiramatsu, Niti Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar, Central government officials, Principal Secretary-rank officials of Gujarat and Maharashtra, officials of NHSRCL (National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited), officials of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the General Manager of Western Railway.

A senior railway board member, requesting anonymity, told IANS, “The railways is in no mood to delay the Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train project. Lohani will now hold a review meeting once every three months… And even on weekly basis, if required.”

Emphasising on the government’s intention, the official said, “The attendance of the NITI Aayog Vice Chairman, the Japanese Ambassador and the CRB in the review meeting is a clear signal that the government is taking the project seriously and there is no scope for any delay.”

“The CRB wants Indian Railway officials to take lessons from their Japanese counterparts about meeting deadlines,” he said.

The opposition has attacked the government for taking up a project at a huge cost instead of focusing on safety, a dire need of the time, and on schemes to improve passenger amenities.

The official said it was also decided at the meeting that “a road map for consultancy and civil engineering works will be prepared by January 2018”.

A ministry official associated with the Bullet Train project said a report on the signalling system and electrical reports would be ready by April 2018. According to him, the tracks and most of the signalling system would be brought from Japan.

The foundation stone for the Rs 1.08 lakh crore ($17 billion) 508-km Ahmedabad-Mumbai Bullet Train was laid in Ahmedabad by Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe on September 14.

Of the Rs 1.08 lakh crore, Japan is giving a loan of Rs 88,000 crore at a minimal interest of 0.1 per cent for 50 years. And the repayment will begin only after 15 years.

The railway official said that to encourage the Prime Minister’s ambitious ‘Make in India’ programme, “an appeal will be made to Indian and Japanese companies to make use the opportunity to work together”.

Meanwhile, the officials of the government of Maharashtra and Gujarat assured the railways of their help in land acquisition and smooth shifting of raw materials to construction venues.

A three-level monitoring committee was also constituted, including the Vice Chairman of Niti Ayog and Special Advisor to Japanese Prime Minister.

A working group led by Managing Director of NHSRCL Achal Khare and consisting of representatives of the ministries concerned, and the representative of JICA, has been formed. Besides the two committees, a technical expert committee led by the Managing Director of NHSRCL has also been formed.

Of the 508 km stretch, 92 per cent (468 km) of the route will be elevated, six per cent (27 km) will be in tunnels and the remaining two per cent (13 km) will be on the ground . The high-speed train would also pass through the country’s longest tunnel of 21 km, of which seven km will be under the sea. Twelve stations have been proposed that include Mumbai, Thane, Virar, Boisar, Vapi, Bilimora, Surat, Bharuch, Vadodara, Anand, Ahmedabad and Sabarmati. The distance will be covered in two hours and seven minutes if the train stops at four stations — Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat and Mumbai. If the train stops at all 12 stations, it will cover the distance in two hours and fifty-eight minutes.

According to Railway Ministry officials, the operating speed of the bullet train would be 320 kmph and the maximum speed would be 350 kmph

Road Ministry offers Right of Way to Indian Railways for the Bullet Train project

NEW DELHI: In a move that could reduce costs and quicken construction of the ambitious Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train, the road transport and highways ministry offered right of way to the railways to build part of the project alongside the upcoming 380-km Vadodara-Mumbai expressway.

The road ministry has already acquired almost 3,200 hectares of land for the expressway and has offered right of way to the Indian Railways along the entire corridor between Vadodara and Mumbai for the bullet train project. Vadodara is 110 km from Ahmedabad and is a major trade centre along with Surat on the Ahmedabad-Mumbai corridor.

“The total project cost of the expressway is around Rs 40,000 crore and majority of it consists of the land value that we have acquired between the two cities for constructing the six-lane highway. The alignment of both rail and road corridor is almost the same between Mumbai and Vadodara,” a government official said.

The Indian Railways is yet to acquire land for the Rs 1.08 lakh crore bullet train project. The government aims to complete the Japanese International Cooperation Agency funded project by August 2022.

According to the official, the move could save Rs 10,000 crore to Rs 12,000 crore for both the road and railway ministries and save the railways the task of acquiring land for the 380-km route. The total length of the bullet train project is 508 km. If the bullet train is aligned with the expressway, the railways would only need to acquire land between Ahmedabad and Vadodara.

“The right of way offered to railways could remove all land acquisition hassles for the national transporter along with reducing the cost of acquisition, especially in parts of Maharashtra such as Thane and other nearby Mumbai cities where land acquisition is nearly impossible now,” the official added.

The road ministry is of the view that a rail-and-road corridor would be complementary, with bullet train carrying only passengers and the expressway used mostly for freight and by short-distance travellers.

A top railway ministry official said the proposal is being considered by the Railway Board. The bullet train project, launched in September by PM Narendra Modi and Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe, will cut travel time between the two cities to less than three hours.

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Bangladesh announce Dhaka-Chittagong Highspeed Rail link likely by 2022

Bangladesh will get its first high-speed rail link between Dhaka and Chittagong cities by 2022. The proposed route for the rail link will bring the distance down from 320km to 200km, which will take only one and a half hours to traverse.

DHAKA: The government has given the green light to a new high-speed rail link between Dhaka and Chittagong which should cut journey times between the country’s largest two cities by over five hours by 2022.

The existing Dhaka-Chittagong rail link runs for 320km through Tongi, Bhairab, Akhaura, Comilla and Feni, with journey times ranging from 7-10 hours.

The high-speed train, however, will run on a special track to be laid through Narayanganj, Comilla, Laksham and Feni, cutting the travel distance by over a third to 200km.

“The high-speed train will be able to take the passengers to Chittagong from Dhaka in one-and-a-half hours,” Railways Secretary Mofazzel Hossain told on Tuesday. “The service will be more comfortable and time-saving.”

The project will be implemented under a government-to-government (G2G) agreement with China at an estimated cost of Tk50,000 crore, said Kazi Rafiqul Alam, additional director general (infrastructure) of the Bangladesh Railway.

“This high-speed train project is important as it will mobilise trade and tourism,” he told.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina first came up with the idea of constructing a high-speed rail link during a visit to the Ministry of Railways on October 24, 2014.

A total of 21 foreign firms have submitted proposals to conduct the feasibility study for the project, following a tender issued by Bangladesh Railway (BR).

These are now being scrutinised by the Ministry of Railways and the Economic Relations Division (ERD) before five or six companies are shortlisted soon, said a senior official at the ministry.

The tentative deadline for completion of the feasibility study has been set as December 2018. The costs of the feasibility study and consultancy are estimated to be around Tk100 crore and Tk36 crore, respectively.

Dozens of new bridges – including two large spans of the Shitalakkhya and Meghna rivers – will be constructed for the rail link.

The Dhaka-Narayanganj part of the route will be constructed beside the existing rail line, while the section from Narayanganj to Comilla’s Daudkandi upazila will be constructed as an elevated railway.

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Maha Govt diverting funds from Karad-Chiplun Railway Line project to Bullet Train: allege Prithviraj Chavan

MUMBAI: Former Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan allege that the state government is in the process of diverting the funds of the proposed Karad-Chiplun railway line project to the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project.

“Shapoorji Pallonji Co Pvt Ltd, which had inked a memorandum of understanding with Konkan Railway Corporation Limited in August 2016, has now withdrawn from the (Karad- Chiplun railway line) project. The company was supposed to construct the new train line between Karad and Chiplun at a cost of Rs 3,195 crore,” Chavan said.

“No decision was taken since the MoU was signed and the company had to wait for almost a year. Now, it has pulled out. I suspect it is being done to divert the funds for bullet train,” the senior Congress leader alleged.

The ambitious Rs 1,10,000 crore bullet train project was launched by prime minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe in Ahmedabad last month. A loan of Rs 88,000 crore will be taken from Japan for the project. The funds will be given at an interest of 0.1 percent per annum by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). This loan has to be repaid to Japan in 50 years, with 15 years grace period.

Chavan, however, said that land acquisition costs are not considered in these figures. “The state government will have to spend for it (land acquisition) from its treasury.

Hence, the land acquisition costs in the Karad-Chiplun railway line project are going to be diverted to the bullet train project,” Chavan, who represents Karad South assembly constituency, alleged.

“Even if the interest rate is just 0.1 percent, I think we will have to repay it in the Japanese currency yen and the appreciation rate of yen is three per cent every year.

In the last decade, the Japanese yen has appreciated over 60 percent. So imagine, how much we will have to repay to the Japanese partner after 15 years,” he added. He also raised question marks over the sharing of expenses for the bullet train project. “When only 24 percent length of the bullet train route passes through Maharashtra, why should we bear equal share with Gujarat? It means we are paying more by cancelling the already sanctioned projects in the state,” he said.

The Congress veteran said, the bullet train project was announced just ahead of the Gujarat elections, although its signing of MoU had taken place much earlier. “On the other hand, metro projects for Pune and Nagpur were signed at the same time, but (Union minister) Nitin Gadkari, after swearing in immediately brought Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Nagpur and laid the foundation of the work. Today, it has significantly progressed,” he said. Chavan also slammmed the BJP-led state government over its decision to implement 30 percent cuts on development works across the ministries.

Though the government is saying it is 30 percent, in reality it will be 50 percent as this government has miserably failed on managing its finances, he said. “This government has made several false and tall claims of improving the financial condition of the state. When the BJP-led dispensation came to power, the total loan on the state government was Rs two lakh crore, which has jumped to Rs four lakh crore. Who is misleading the people of the state,” Chavan asked.

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Bullet Train Logo finalised: NID Student’s Cheetah will be face of India’s Highspeed Train project

NEW DELHI: Bullet train logo has been designed and it’s: cheetah. A student of the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad has designed the logo for India’s high-speed rail network. A senior Railways official said the logo was selected from a contest by a three-member screening committee headed by renowned painter and architect Satish Gujral.

“The contest received an overwhelming response from across the country. The dates for submitting the applications were between April 19 and May 18, and around 100 entries were received by the committee from various states,” the report quoted an official as saying. The cheetah represents speed, while the red and blue lines symbolise calm and reliability, the report further said. Three entries were shortlisted after initial screening. The top entry was selected from NID in Ahmedabad, the second from the School of Planning and Architecture in Delhi, and the third from the NID in Bangalore.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe laid the foundation stone for India’s first high-speed rail network project in Gujarat on September 14. The first bullet train will run between Ahmedabad and Mumbai. This Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail or MAHSR is a 508 KM long corridor that will pass through Sabarmati, Anand, Vadodara, Bharuch, Surat, Bilimora, Vapi, Boisar, Virar and Thane. The project is expected to be completed by 2022. The MAHSR project is a joint venture between Indian Railways and Japan’s Shinkansen Technology.

Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad recently put out a study, saying that the bullet train from Mumbai-Ahmedabad can eventually be extended to Jaipur and Delhi. The study said that the Mumbai-Ahmedabad corridor was a good choice for the first route as it connects the country’s first and seventh most populous cities with significant economic development in the 500 km corridor between them. “In terms of future network growth, this segment can be part of further extension to Jaipur and Delhi,” the study said.

5 historical, engineering facts you need to know about Japan’s prestigious bullet trains

  • The first bullet train was inaugurated in Japan in the year 1964. The train, known as Shinkansen, ran from Tokyo to Osaka. It could run upto 320 km per hour. However, a few years before Shinkansen was inaugurated in Japan, Emile Bachelet of New York demonstrated a prototype of what was to become a magnetic levitating car.
  • Subsequently, a series of German patents were awarded to Hermann Kemper for his idea of magnetic levitating trains. The first commercial magnetic levitating car, what was to become one of the earliest versions of Maglev, ran in Birmingham from 1984-95 between the international airport and the international railway station.
  • The idea behind the Maglev or Magnetic Levitation is very simple. It functions on the basic principle of magnetic repulsion, where opposite poles attract and similar poles repel. This governs the functioning of the Maglev that levitates around 10 mm from the guiding track.
  • Although a lot of countries have high-speed trains, not all of them are bullet trains. According to reports on the Guardian and the Washington Post, fewer than 15 countries had high-speed trains as of 2009.
  • As of now, the fastest train is the Japanese maglev L0 series that can speed up to 603 km/h. According to India Today, the TR-09 in Germany and the Shanghai Maglev in China are the second and third swiftest trains that can run upto a speed of 500 km and 430 km per hour respectively.

Bullet Trains will transform India in a positive manner: Hideki Asari, Minister (Political Affairs), Embassy of Japan

After a lecture about open trade between India and Japan, Hideki Asari, Minister (Political Affairs), Embassy of Japan, spoke on things that concern Japan. Below is edited excerpts.

The bullet train (Mumbai-Ahmedabad) has received criticism over the cost of the project. But what is the economic value of the project?

High speed trains have transformed Japan and it will transform India as well. However, I will leave the actual figures of job creation to the economists. But if you see there are over 13,000 Japanese companies in India and each of them creates job in India, especially the large manufacturers. These companies have been having a positive impact in Indian economy by creating huge number of direct and indirect jobs.

There were talks about taking 3 lakh Indian youth to Japan for training. How many of them will be employed there?

The schools where the youth would go for training, are operated by four major Japanese manufacturers. Each of these schools will train them; will help them develop their skills and they can find jobs in Japanese factories. Due to these skills, they will create better opportunities not just for themselves but for overall work force of India. However, I don’t have the figures.

How do you think Trans-Pacific partnership (TPP) and Indo-Pacific change things in the region?

TPP is our country’s concern and we are consulting on how we carry it forward. Speaking of TPP itself, it has a very huge significance for strategic and economic implication. In the Pacific region, if you look at the size of economy of the participating countries, TPP will beneficial. This partnership will benefit India as well in lot of ways— in terms of trade and piracy issues. TPP will benefit not just participating countries but non-participating countries as well.

What will be Japan and India’s role in growth in the Pacific region?

Japan and India can collaborate not just in trade, but in investment, business collaboration, manufacturing in the quality products etc. This quality product manufacturing should not be limited towards Indian market but also outside market which will create more trade.

How will Japan help India to meet its green energy demands?

This area is important. Japan has technology and there is enough room for collaboration in this space for both countries. This area is not only promising but is also very important for the two countries to combat global warming.

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China delays India’s ambitious Chennai-Bangalore-Mysore High-speed Train project

The Chennai-Bangalore-Mysore corridor is one of nine such high speed corridors being developed by the ministry of Railways.

NEW DELHI: An ambitious high speed train project in south India has been delayed after Chinese railways, that completed a feasibility study a year ago, did not respond, railway officials have said, suggesting that the “lack of response” may be due to the Dokalam standoff.

An internal brief of the Mobility Directorate on the status of nine high-speed projects of the railways, accessed by PTI, shows that the Chennai-Bangalore-Mysore corridor, a 492 km stretch, lies in limbo because the Chinese railways has failed to respond to the ministry’s communiques.

“The Chinese company submitted the final report in November 2016 and after that the Chinese team has suggested for a face to face interaction. No date has been fixed from their side,” said the note prepared by the Mobility Directorate.

On the reason for the delay, the brief states – “lack of response” from Chinese railways.

The brief also states that the feasibility study by the China Railway Eryuan Engineering Group Co Ltd (CREEC) was submitted to the Railway Board in November 2016 and after that the Chinese company had sought meetings with officials of the Board.

However, officials say that the Board has been unable to get in touch with officials of CREEC despite repeated communications sent to them via mails in the last six months.

“We have even tried to get in touch with them through their Embassy here, but we are yet to hear from them,” said an official.

The ministry officials said that it was the standoff between the two countries in Bhutan’s Dokalam area between June 16 and August 28 this year that seems to have derailed the project.

“The study began in 2014 and they submitted the report in 2016. The entire cost was borne by them. In fact they have shown so much interest in collaborating with us for other projects as well, so we think that it was the standoff that must have raised doubts,” said a senior rail official.

An email to the Chinese Embassy by PTI on the issue did not elicit any response.

Troops of India and China were locked in a 73-day-long standoff in Dokalam since June 16 after the Indian side stopped the building of a road in the disputed area by the Chinese Army. Bhutan and China have a dispute over Dokalam.

The brief, prepared by the department in charge of all the high speed corridors, also states that except the Chinese roadblock, work on the eight other projects was on track.

China had in fact not only pitched for the Mumbai- Ahemdabad high speed network, which was finally bagged by Japan, but also for the bullet project in the Mumbai-Delhi sector, which is yet to be finalised.

China is also training railway engineers in heavy hauling and it is with Chinese collaboration that India is setting up its first railway university.

The Chennai-Bangalore-Mysore corridor is one of nine such high speed corridors being developed by the ministry. The aim was to increase the speed from the present 80 kmph to 160 kmph.

While the Delhi-Agra route was made operational in 2016 with the country’s fastest train Gatimaan Express running between the two cities, the work on rest seven of eight of 8 is going at a fast pace, the brief indicated

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Japanese companies to showcase High-speed Rail equipment, technologies

NEW DELHI: Japan will showcase products and technologies with focus on high speed rail during a rail equipment exhibition here.

This will be the largest ever Japanese showcase coinciding with India’s move to implement high speed bullet train between Ahmedabad and Mumbai.

Japan is partner country for the second time in the International Railway Equipment Exhibition to be organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), in association with the Ministry of Railways here between October 11 and 13.

Japanese companies, including Japan Rail, Japan Overseas Rolling Stocks Association, Mitsubishi, Kawasaki, Hitachi, Toshiba, and Nippon, supported by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport & Tourism and the Ministry of Economy, Trade & Industry, Government of Japan, will take part in the expo, according to a CII release.

The exhibition will see participation by 500 companies from 20 countries including Austria, Belarus, Belgium, China, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, India, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine, the UK and the US.

Uzbek High Speed Rail has lessons for India

NEW DELHI: High Speed Rail (HSR) in landlocked Uzbekistan that connects key cities along the historic Silk Road is among the lesser known facts of the modern-day connectivity initiatives in Asia. Uzbekistan, besides Russia, is the only country in the Eurasian region to have HSR and as a developing country, Uzbek HSR has lessons for India that wants to develop a network of bullet trains beginning with the Mumbai-Ahmedabad route.

Japan is providing technology as well as finance for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad route and the foundation stone for the project was laid when PM Shinzo Abe visited Gujarat for the Indo-Japan annual summit last month. HSR has been able to revolutionise travel in the Central Asian state — connecting Uzbek capital Tashkent with historic cities of Samarkand and Bukhara — a model that India may replicate for its key tourism circuits. Importantly, the first Uzbek HSR route, opened in 2011, runs to the minute without delay.

And interestingly, these trains are run on upgraded conventional railway track. The Tashkent-Samarkand route (344 km) is covered in two hours and the Tashkent-Bukhara route (600 km) is covered in an impressive three hours and 20 minutes. Earlier, passengers spent 7-8 hours to travel from capital to Bukhara and vice-versa.

Renowned Spanish rail firm Talgo, which was also exploring the Indian market, had specially designed HSR in Uzbekistan that suited the extreme climatic conditions, a senior Uzbek official told. Temperatures in Uzbekistan can fall below –20 degrees Celsius during winters.

Samarkand and Bukhara house treasure of history on the ancient Silk Road and draw visitors from across the globe, an Uzbek official said. “The introduction of HSR in Uzbekistan that became independent in 1991 is a remarkable feat. Coupled with this transport initiative that has attracted additional tourists, recent measures to modernise the economy and financial structures will help keep local economy stable and make it grow,” the official added.

The resource and heritage-rich Central Asian state has witnessed a spur in tourism since tourist visas were abolished last December for 27 countries.

Germany shows interest in executing Chennai-Bengaluru Bullet Train project, funding likely the Japanese way

In October last year, India and Germany signed a deal on Bilateral Cooperation in the Rail Sector. Germany likely to follow Japan in aiding India’s quest for Superfast Trains.

BANGALORE: Germany is likely to follow Japan in aiding India’s quest for superfast trains. After laying the foundations of the Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train with aid from Japan, Germany is evincing keen interest to finance and execute the proposed Chennai-Bengaluru high-speed rail project, which will have almost the same terms as the Japanese venture.

For the Rs.110,000-crore (Rs 1,100 billion) Mumbai-Ahmedabad project, Japan has offered a loan of Rs 88,000 crore (Rs 880 billion at a minimal interest of 0.1 per cent, which can be repaid in 50 years. Germany has shown an interest in executing and giving a loan for the Chennai-Bengaluru bullet train project.

Discussions are in initial stages but they are likely to agree to the way the Japanese are doing it,” said an official close to the development.

In October last year, India and Germany signed a deal on bilateral cooperation in the rail sector.

According to the pact, Germany is expected to look at the possibility of a bullet train and increasing the speed of trains on existing routes to 200 km per hour (kmph).

In order to increase the overall speed of Indian trains, the railways ministry has made a multi-pronged strategy.

“The Railway Board’s plans include running high-speed trains (with a speed of more than 300 kmph), semi high-speed trains (with a speed of 160-200 kmph), and increasing the average speed of the existing trains,” the official added.

The Mumbai-Ahmedabad route will cover 508 km and 12 stations have been proposed on the route. This distance is likely to be covered in two hours and 58 minutes by the bullet train, travelling at 320-350 kmph.

The distance by train between Chennai and Bengaluru is around 358 km. If the Mumbai-Ahmedabad project is taken as the benchmark, the Chennai-Bengaluru route is likely to cost Rs 70,000-80,000 crore  (Rs 700-Rs 800 billion).

Many analysts, however, say that the Mumbai-Ahmedabad project cost is too high compared to that offered by Chinese and some European companies.

According to sources, five planned high-speed routes – Delhi-Mumbai, Mumbai-Chennai, Delhi-Kolkata, Delhi-Nagpur, and Mumbai-Nagpur – are also in various stages of consultation.

A Chinese consultant, The Third Railway Survey and Design Institute Group Corporation, is doing the feasibility study for the Delhi-Mumbai route, while a consortium led by French major Systra, RITES, and Ernst and Young are studying the Mumbai-Chennai route.

A consortium led by Spanish company Typsa is studying the feasibility of the Delhi-Kolkata route.

The feasibility for the Delhi-Nagpur and Mumbai-Nagpur routes is being conducted by China and Spain, respectively, on a government-to-government basis.

“Our priority is completing the Mumbai-Ahmedabad and Chennai-Bengaluru routes. The rest of the projects will be taken up only after that,” the official added. For the Mumbai-Ahmedabad route, Japanese Shinkansen technology will be used. The project will cover 155.6 km in Maharashtra, 350.5 km in Gujarat, and 2 km in Dadra and Nagar Haveli.

An alliance on track

  • In October last year, India and Germany signed a deal on bilateral cooperation in the rail sector
  • According to the pact, Germany was expected to look at the possibility of a bullet train and increasing the speed of trains on existing routes to 200 kmph
  • The Mumbai-Ahmedabad route will cover 508 km and 12 stations have been proposed. This distance is likely to be covered in two hours and 58 minutes by the bullet train, travelling at 320-350 kmph

Pointless to evaluate Bullet Train in terms of its economic viability: says K Balakesari IRSME (Retd.)

In the din of the euphoria that has greeted the commencement of India’s first bullet train project, K. Balakesari’s voice of caution, balance and nuance is a welcome relief. Although he retired 16 years ago as Member (Staff) of the Railway Board, the premier executive body that charts the course of the Indian Railways, Balakesari’s 38-year tenure with the Railways—across the country and in various capacities—enables him to offer a perspective that balances the need for futuristic solutions to transportation problems with a pragmatism that takes into account India’s specific constraints.

Balakesari joined the Indian Railway Service of Mechanical Engineers in July 1963. While on the Railway Board he was also concurrently Chairman, Rail India Technical & Economic Services Ltd (RITES Ltd). Incidentally, Balakesari provided expert assistance to the Justice U.C. Banerji Committee (2004-06), which conducted an inquiry into the fire on the Sabarmati Express at Godhra in 2002.

Forty-three years ago, Balakesari, while with the Research Designs & Standards Organisation, ran a test train on the Tundla-Kanpur section to a maximum speed of 177 kilometres an hour on existing tracks. Recalling this thrilling experience, he said: “We ran slightly modified ICF-designed coaches on tracks for which we had permission for speeds up to 160 km/hr only.” To reach this acceleration, it took the train—a locomotive and two coaches—to travel a distance of 15-20 km. “Something went into our heads and we decided to go on and on,” he said.

Balakesari cautions against the shrill cries that everything is wrong with the Railways: “While there is no such thing as being perfectly safe, we have to appreciate that the Railways is not falling apart as some appear to suggest.” The bullet train, he says, is a project aimed at burnishing the image of the country, and therefore it is pointless to evaluate it in terms of its economic viability or its impact on the wider Indian rail system. Excerpts:

What do you think about the planned introduction of the bullet train from Mumbai to Ahmedabad in 2022? How important is the project given the state of the Indian Railways, especially in terms of priorities?

We need to keep in mind the fact that the bullet train project has been on the anvil for a long time. In fact, when I was in the Railways—as early as the turn of the millennium—there were discussions on such a project. Basically, it is a project to improve the image of the system. The idea was to leapfrog from what is 19th or 20th century to something futuristic. It is important to understand that the bullet train project has not been decided off the cuff.

Basically, the idea seems to be to project to the world that we are also capable of running something like this. It is also important to appreciate that any High Speed Rail [HSR] project is generally delinked from the conventional railway system—in terms of both management and finances. The HSR is not like running a Shatabdi [intercity express train]. In fact, HSR systems are more like airlines than conventional trains; they are competitors to airlines rather than the roadways. The experience overseas is that they attract users who wish to avoid the hassles associated with travelling by road. Indian Railways is probably only promoting the bullet train project; the managing entity will be something comparable to the case of the Delhi Metro.

But even if that is formally so, we have a situation in which the railway system is essentially in a state of decay. When tracks, coaches and wagons, signalling and almost every other aspect of the rail system is in need of urgent attention because of prolonged neglect, is this something the government ought to focus on?

I concede I have little direct experience with HSR systems. But I have [former] colleagues who have had direct, hands-on experience of 10-15 years and who have been actively associated with such projects in China and in Europe. Essentially, high-speed projects are about projecting an image, for various reasons—it could be political or even industrial. Interestingly, when the French TGV [Train à Grande Vitesse] was initially proposed by Georges Pompidou, it was rejected on financial grounds. Later, it was pursued and completed in the early 1980s.

The Japanese Shinkansen actually came about in the context of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, at which time Japan wanted it as a showpiece of its recovery after the Second World War. Although the Chinese had done a lot of spadework on such train systems earlier, it really got a push [in China] after the global financial crisis a decade ago. China went the whole hog on HSR, using it as a means of providing an economic stimulus. In fact, the Chinese HSR expansion in the last decade was perhaps the fastest implementation of a large-scale infrastructure project ever undertaken anywhere in the world. In six to seven years, they constructed about 15,000 km of high-speed track. So, every HSR, anywhere in the world, was not taken up as a result of strict evaluation of financial and economic criteria. It has always been based on some sort of a political decision that is aimed at furthering the image of a country or of the regime governing it. The message seems to be: “If you can do it, we can also have it”.

The second aspect of the Indian bullet train project is that it is being funded largely by the Japan International Cooperation Agency [JICA]. In a sense, it would be Japan Making in India.

But the financial terms are not so transparent…

I agree with that. Some have even asked: “Who knows what will happen after 50 years? None of us would be alive.”

But the point I am making is that the tendency to link the development of the conventional railways to HSR is not exactly correct because they are totally different. One is a running system; the other is a project that is separately funded and its finances are not going to impact on the finances of the Indian Railways. Definitely it would have an impact on the finances of the Indian government, but not directly on the Indian Railways.

There can always be the question that the Rs.98, 000 crore [needed for the] project can be better invested in the Indian Railways. But to tell you frankly, that is a political decision. The Prime Minister has added another aspect to this by insisting that it ought to be ready for the 75th anniversary of Indian independence, showing to the world that India has arrived in the bullet train age. This may mean nothing to an ordinary second class rail passenger, but the political masters have made their point! But the argument that the money could have been used for something else—improving the health indices or educational access, for example—is a never-ending one.

Questions of viability have been raised…

In every major country that has implemented HSR—barring perhaps the Paris-Lyon HSR—it has not been economically viable. Even the Paris-Lyon line took 17 years to break even [inclusive of infrastructure costs]. All the other HSR systems all over the world are, directly or indirectly, supported by their respective governments. To use the term “viable HSR” is thus an oxymoron.

The fascination with high speed has always been there. I do not think we will ever reach a stage where we will be able to say, “We have done all that is needed for the Indian Railways, so, now let us invest in HSR.” What I am saying is that we may disagree on the priorities, but the fact is that the HSR is a stand-alone project which in 99 per cent of the cases is a political decision. In this case, there are some locational advantages. It is located in the western region, an area in which the per capita income is relatively higher than the rest of the country. In the project area there are also fairly prosperous tier-2 cities like Surat, Vadodara and Anand. Moreover, the distance between Mumbai and Ahmedabad is about 500 km, which is supposed to be ideal for HSR projects.

There is some international evidence, primarily from Japan and France, to show that HSR improved safety in rail systems and contributed to economic activity in the areas served by it. In both countries the ridership increased beyond what was initially expected. I think we will imbibe best-class world practices as we implement the project. A training centre is to be established in Vadodara and Indian railway personnel are to be trained; these are welcome. The arguments against the project can point to all the ills that plague the Indian Railways. You can ask, “Why are you wasting money on this when the common man is not interested in travelling at 300-400 km/hr?” You could say he or she would be happy to reach home safe and on time, with clean coaches and clean toilets. It is important to recognise that we cannot run very-high-speed trains on existing tracks because of the high traffic.

When a Rajdhani runs, even on a double line, quite a few goods trains have to be stopped. This is because of the speed differential between the Rajdhani and the other trains using the same tracks. It’s only logical that any further increase in the speed differential would impact the throughput even more. This is the reason why I have reservations about even introducing semi-high-speed trains on existing tracks. Earlier, even for speeds in excess of 140 km/hr, fencing alongside tracks was recommended to prevent ingress of humans or cattle, even after eliminating all level crossings. This is because many of these lines pass through thickly populated areas. The service is not like a suburban railway, although in Japan the Shinkansen has almost become part of the suburban system; in some cases, they are ferrying passengers from 200 km.

There has also been prolonged and gross underfunding for track replacement, acquisition of coaches and wagons, signalling and improvement of stations and passenger amenities. Moreover, these frail assets have been flogged over the last several years. Although the Railways’ main business and the bullet train project may theoretically be completely separate, there still remains the question: can we afford to neglect the whole—the much larger conventional railway operation—for a much smaller part—the bullet train project? Can we afford a Janus-faced posture in these circumstances?

What is required in terms of resources to keep the Indian Railways safe and economically viable is a matter about which there can be no argument. Every regime in the last few decades has claimed to have handled the Railways better than its predecessor did. You cannot have a situation in which you claim to be doing better but you want even more money.

About a decade ago, there was a jump in earnings simply because the Railways started flogging its assets without a care for the state of its assets—over tracks, wagons and other systems. I do not know what damage has been caused, but the extent of wear and tear needs to be assessed.

If, as you say, everything is in a run-down state, who should be saying this? Are the people running the Railways admitting this?

My point is basically this: get honest information before you decide what you need to do. The political masters are saying: the Railways is not doing outstandingly well, but doing okay, so I may as well implement this [bullet train] and get some publicity!

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Why the Bullet Train makes sense for India

Questioning the bullet train in view of the investment needed in Indian Railways is similar to saying that India needed to invest in primary education rather than in IITs, says Shreekant Sambrani.

“It is kind of free,” said Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail project (referred hereafter by its popular name, the bullet train), in its ground-breaking ceremony.

He was referring to its financing. Japan will provide Rs 88,000 crore (81 per cent) of the Rs 1.1 lakh crore cost as a 50-year loan at an annual interest of 0.1 per cent with a 15-year moratorium.

These exceptionally favourable terms have led to a debate, as have several other features of this venture.

Critics say that these parameters yield an unrealistic and overly optimistic internal rate of return for the bullet train.

Internal rate of return is one of the end results of discounted cash flow (DCF) analysis. This takes into account the time value of money for a multi-period project and is based on the reckoning of costs of opportunities forgone in choosing it.

A personal aside: The long-known DCF was introduced in the mid-1960s as part of the development economics curricula in universities. I was among the early students of this concept.

I taught it in postgraduate courses and executive-training programmes.

It was quite a novelty in the early 1970s and not very easy to get across. I have continued to use it extensively in my work.

Any undertaking providing benefits in the future involves sacrifice of some alternative use of the funds invested at present.

The investment is justified if the sum of the stream of future benefits is greater than the value of present opportunities foregone.

That sum needs to be discounted by an appropriate factor as it materialises not now but later, while the sacrifice is made at present.

For investments with limited commercial objectives, such as those of private firms, the factor is the interest earned on own funds or paid for borrowed money.

The discounting factor for projects with social benefits is based on weights the society attaches to present and future consumption.

A very poor society with low consumption levels will use a high discount rate, while a rich one would use a fairly low one.

On this logic, the negligible rate of interest is the correct discounting factor for both India and Japan.

There is little sacrifice involved in India, as Japan funds the project and since the loan is tied to it, investing the money on offer for other purposes is not possible.

For Japan, the cost of funds is extremely low; in fact, not too long ago, Japan had a virtually negative bank rate. It would also create substantial additional demand for Japanese goods and technology in a new market segment.

The logic of using very low, near-zero, rates of discount for projects of long gestation and duration must prevail even when relatively poor societies invest their own meagre resources in creating facilities to provide desirable outcomes.

Large irrigation and infrastructure projects are typical such instances.

Leaving aside controversies on their distributional impact, these activities sometimes take a decade or longer before starting to generate sizeable benefits.

Using prevailing interest rates as the discounting factor leads to a gross underestimation of the value the society would normally attach to the these outcomes.

Present values of benefits 20 and 25 years hence at a 10 per cent discount rate are 13 and 8 per cent of their nominal values respectively.

Conventional analysis is thus not quite relevant for investments which could be rightly termed as gifts that keep giving.

We borrow money to own our housing even if the equated monthly installment of repayment is higher than the present rent for equivalent accommodation.

China made enormous investments in power plants, dams and world-class road and rail networks starting in the mid 1970s.

The end result was its spectacular double-digit growth sustained over a long period and global economic dominance three and four decades later.

A relevant but much smaller Indian comparison is with the 1950s and 1960s decisions to establish Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT).

Their feasibility could never have been established even without DCF given since they charged the students pittance as tuition.

Yet one could assert without fear of contradiction that the alumni of these institutions created the image of excellence of Indian technocrats abroad, leading also to substantial homeward remittances earlier and now venture investments.

Arguably, it was also the basis of the information technology revolution placing India in global limelight half a century later.

Although neither of these were planned as results of IITs, they would not have happened in the absence of IITs (disclaimer: the writer is an early alumnus of IIT Bombay).

Questioning the bullet train in view of the investment needed in Indian Railways is similar to saying that India needed to invest in primary education rather than in IITs.

The fact is India in either instance needed both the activities.

Much has been written recently about the direct and indirect benefits of the bullet train.

We must also remember that this is a classic case of supply creating its own demand.

The short point is that even the best estimates of future utilisation of such projects are often short of what really happens.

Modi first visited Japan in 2006 as chief minister of Gujarat. He got five minutes with Shinzo Abe, who was the Japanese premier then too. That was a purely formal call, without any agenda.

Modi also managed a ride in the Shinkansen train, including a visit to the driver’s cabin.

He told a bureaucrat accompanying him that he wanted to bring the bullet train to India. It has taken him a decade to do so.  Luckily, he did not attempt to follow DCF analysis in this interim!

Reliance Infra to participate in India’s Bullet Train project

MUMBAI: Infrastructure major Reliance Infrastructure on Tuesday said it will participate in the “very ambitious” Rs 1 lakh crore bullet train project of the Indian Railways.

“We are deeply engaged and involved with a number of Japanese companies through JVs (joint ventures) and we will participate in this very ambitious Rs 1 lakh crore project,” Reliance Infrastructure’s Chairman Anil D. Ambani said while addressing the company’s shareholders at the 88th annual general meeting (AGM).

According to Ambani, the company is focusing on the EPC (engineering, procurement, construction) segment.

“In Mumbai, we are short-listed as bidder for Bandra-Versova Sea Link, coastal road project, and we also have LoIs (letter of intent) for metro orders,” Ambani said.

“Besides, we have also qualified for the Mumbai-Nagpur Expressway project. We will go through the process and compete.”

Ambani further said that government is expected to shortly award contract for manufacture of six submarines worth Rs 50,000 crore.

“With the acquisition of Pipavav, we are one of the only two companies in India strategically positioned to participate in government of India’s strategic partnership programme to build submarines. For the first time in India, private sector company will be actually building a submarine,”

“We believe very strongly that Defence is a sunrise sector. 90 per cent of country’s defence requirements are imported.”

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Bullet Train project reignites debate on land for ‘public purpose’

MUMBAI: Plans for India’s first bullet train, a $17-billion-dollar project, have sparked a debate on the definition of “public purpose” for land acquisitions which have become increasingly contentious.

The 500-km- (310-mile-) long high-speed rail link promises to cut travel time between the financial hub of Mumbai and the industrial city of Ahmedabad in Gujarat state by more than half to under three hours.

The project, inaugurated earlier this month, will need about 825 hectares (2,000 acres) of land. The government has said it will complete the line by 2022, even as farmers along the proposed route held protests against giving up their land.

They may have little say in the matter, as the state has a legal right to take private property for public purposes.

But analysts say the definition of what constitutes public purpose needs revisiting, even for infrastructure projects.

“When projects – airports, private colleges, bullet trains – benefit only a small percentage of the population, some debate over public purpose needs to be had, for moral if not legal reasons,” said Aseem Shrivastava, an environmental economist.

“When the state is brokering land deals, should only the state decide what is public purpose?”

Conflicts have increased in India as land is sought for industrial use and development projects.

A law passed in 2013 was meant to protect the rights of farmers, ensuring consensus over land acquisitions, rehabilitation for those displaced, and adequate compensation.

But several states have diluted these provisions to speed up acquisitions.

Over the years, the state has extended public purpose from public schools, railways and highways to also include private hospitals and educational institutions, factories and Special Economic Zones.

Officials say these are key to accelerate economic growth and generate jobs that benefit the community.

But land rights experts say defining such projects as public purpose leaves vulnerable people with little judicial recourse.

“To say that jobs are created by setting up a factory, and that therefore it is public purpose, is a facetious argument,” Shrivastava told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

In a rare victory for campaigners, the Supreme Court last year ruled that land purchased by West Bengal state for a Tata Motors factory could not be deemed to have been acquired for a “public purpose” and must be returned to farmers.

In an analysis of all land acquisition cases decided by the Supreme Court from 1950, the top court invalidated the government’s view of public purpose in less than 1 percent of cases, according to think tank Centre for Policy Research.

“We have a virtual laundry list of what makes up public purpose now,” said Namita Wahi, director of the centre’s Land Rights Initiative. “This permissive interpretation is very problematic.”

India’s High-speed Rail project to bring a sea change in the Speed and Safety of Rail Travel

On 14 September, the foundation stone was laid for the first high-speed rail (HSR) project between Ahmedabad and Mumbai. The project is big in terms of size and scale with an estimated cost of $17-18 b, out of which 81 per cent is funded by Japan through a soft loan. It involves the creation of 508 kms of standard gauge rail line, with an elevated corridor of 405 kms, 21 kms of an undersea line and around 5 kms of mountain tunnels.

It is an engineering behemoth that could catalyse the Indian engineering skills. Indian industry hopes this project would open new opportunities for its own development and offer new business in such areas as construction, supply and manufacture of parts, materials and so on. The Railways and Indian companies engaged in the railways, logistics and communication fields have acquired new capabilities. There is now evidence of their ability to partner Japanese hi-tech companies in the MAHSR project. It would be pertinent that Japanese industry explore collaboration possibilities early on so that the criticism against the project does not snowball.

This is in continuation of the financial support pledged by Japan on 12 December 2015, committing about 85% of the total cost of the project as loan with an interest rate of 0.1% and a moratorium of 15 years and repayment period of 50 years. In this backdrop, the question of the tax payers’ money wasted for the bullet train project does not hold water.

Given the track record of accidents in Indian Railways (IR), a pertinent question is whether IR will be able to operate HSR at a maximum speed of 320 kilometres per hour (kmph) without accidents, whereas our conventional trains operate at a maximum speed of 160 kmph or less. First, the guided transportation systems such as air and rail are generally safer than the unguided transportation system like road. A guided transport system is assigned a clear right of way, unlike the unguided transportation system, and thereby provide safer transport. The guided transport system is steered and controlled by very few who are well-trained in operating these modes and when they make mistakes do accidents usually occur. That is why in India and all over the world, air and rail have remained safer transport modes compared to road.

The important question then is if rail is a guided transport system, why are accidents happening regularly. Although rail carries about 10% of the passenger traffic against about 88% by road and 35% of freight traffic against about 65% by road, even after taking these frequent rail accidents into consideration, the number of accidents by rail is relatively low compared to road. However, it was reported that between 2011-12 and 2016-17, 50% of the accidents occurred due to derailments and 40% occurred due to collisions at level crossings and 10% due to other reasons. It is now well established that the conventional rail system suffers from overloading of tracks and the maintenance staff do not even get 2-3 hours of uninterrupted time for the upkeep of rail infrastructure. The non-availability of time to maintain tracks has been resulting in derailments in IR. In the case of HSR, the trains normally run between 06.00 hours and 23.30 hours and the time window between 00.00 hours and 05.00 hours is exclusively allotted to maintenance work. With no seclusion for railway lines and thousands of manned and unmanned level crossings at road junctions, the right of way of conventional rail network is very much restricted in practice. The HSR between Ahmedabad and Mumbai is to be constructed on an elevated corridor for the most part and underground in some urban areas. So, the right of way for HSR will be absolute and leave no scope for collision with any other transport mode; hence HSR will be much safer.

IR inherited the archaic railway system of the 19th century. Its efforts in the upgrade of conventional rail have just been incremental as all the changes had to be carried out in the rail system which is under operations. Although IR has improved its signalling system enormously, it still uses a spatial signalling system, whereas developed countries have adopted in-cab signalling and automatic train stop systems. The spatial signalling system is prone to human error and reduces the throughput of the rail network as only one train in one direction can run in a block (of, say, 15km). The in-cab signalling and automatic train stop systems which are employed in HSR are relatively insulated from human errors. Further trains can also run even with a headway of 3-4 minutes with no scope for collision. As a result, HSR provides at least five times the running capacity as that of conventional rail. HSR is a two-line system (one for each direction) with no crossings or minimal crossings between the lines. Hence the question of collision of trains coming in the opposite directions also does not arise in HSR.

When most of the developed countries moved towards train sets, due to legacy issues, IR has been manufacturing ICF (at the Integral Coach Factory, Chennai) coaches. Although ICF coaches kill and maim passengers enormously when accidents occur compared to the German technology-based LHB (Linke Hofmann Busch) coaches, IR did not stop manufacturing ICF coaches till Suresh Prabhu, the then railway minister, passed an order in November 2016. Prabhu’s order to stop manufacturing ICF coaches and retrofit the safety features of LHB coaches in ICF coaches was aimed at ensuring reduced fatalities and injuries in accidents. In HSR, train sets are used, which are much safer than LHB coaches.

Even if conventional rail is given a perfect right of way by fencing and removing all the level crossings with ROB/RUB (road over-bridges/under-bridges), to acquire speeds like that of HSR, the conventional rail lines should be aligned in straight line. To achieve this, the entire anatomy of the rail network would have to be changed. Upgrading tracks, signalling system or coaches of conventional rail to the level of HSR is akin to replacing every module of a personal computer from the 1980s with the latest modules of a laptop. Apart from serious compatibility issues, the upgraded PC will never be as compact, sleek, portable or give the same quality of service as a latest laptop. HSR is a wonderful opportunity for IR to move multiple levels in technology in one go and thereby bring a sea change in the speed and safety of rail travel and create a new benchmark for quality of service.

It costs about Rs1 trillion for constructing 500km of HSR system, averaging to Rs2 billion per kilometre. Even Metro rail systems cost about Rs3-4 billion per kilometre. Any modern rail system with state-of-the-art features would cost much more than the archaic conventional rail system. The cost of HSR is not just for the construction of tracks but for building HSR stations, high-end rolling stock and signalling system, maintenance depots and workshops, training of personnel, etc. Peevish remarks questioning the wisdom of India going for HSR when we are unable to run conventional train services properly are detrimental to efforts to modernize rail transport, which is long overdue.

BHEL shares surge over 10% on Rolling Stock order win for Bullet Train

BHEL and Kawasaki Heavy Industries will collaborate to make rolling stock for the Ahmedabad-Mumbai high-speed bullet train project, said Japanese PM Shinzo Abe. BHEL stock touched a high of Rs145.80 a share and gained as much as 10.1%, its maximum advance since 7 September 2016

MUMBAI: Shares of Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) on Thursday surged over 10%, its biggest gains in one year, on reports that the company will make rolling stock for bullet trains. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe laid the foundation stone of India’s first bullet train project, a high-speed rail link to Mumbai, in Ahmedabad earlier on Thursday.

The stock touched a high of Rs145.80 a share and gained as much as 10.1%, its maximum advance since 7 September 2016. At 11.11am, BHEL was trading at Rs.143.75 on the BSE, up 8.5% from its previous close. The stock gained for the fourth session and rose 15% in this period. Year to date, it has gained nearly 20%.

“Bharat Heavy and Kawasaki Heavy Industries to collaborate for making rolling stock for bullet train project,” quoted Abe in Ahmedabad.

The 534-km Rs1 trillion high-speed rail project that will operate trains with average speeds of 200-250kmph will be a game-changer in terms of inter-urban connectivity and establish India as a market for such technologies. The bullet train, which has a capacity to accommodate 750 people, is expected to reduce travel time between the two cities from seven to three hours.

BHEL shares closed Rs.4.85, or 3.66%, higher at Rs.137.40, while Sensex rose by 56 points, or 0.17%, to close at 32,242.

On June 29, 2017 the state-owned BHEL had entered into a technology collaboration agreement with Kawasaki Heavy Industries, (KHI), Japan for the manufacture of stainless steel coaches for metros.

KHI is a manufacturer of heavy equipment and its rolling stock company has supplied EMU trainsets to various countries like the US, Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong, alongside Japan, the statement said. KHI is also the manufacturer and supplier of the Shinkansen High Speed Bullet Trains, proposed to be introduced in India on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail Corridor. The pact will enable BHEL to produce stainless steel coaches indigenously, it added.

The Technology Collaboration Agreement covers establishing a state-of-the-art design, engineering and manufacturing facilities at BHEL, India using Japanese technology, a company statement said.

The pact will also entitle BHEL for all technology advances and upgrades. BHEL has been supplying the Indian Railways both electric and diesel locomotives, EMUs, and propulsion system sets and drives for the same. Kolkata Metro, the first metro project in India, is equipped with BHEL made propulsion system.

Meanwhile, in past four trading sessions, the stock rallied 14% after the BHEL has fixed September 30, 2017 as the record date for the purpose of issuance of bonus shares of the company in the ratio of 1 (One) new equity bonus share Rs 2 each for every 2 (Two) existing equity shares of Rs 2 each.

India’s Bullet Train project to obtain the most Modern Technologies; to up the Innovation in Transportation

While European countries like Germany and Italy had been researching and experimenting on high speed rail network since as early as the beginning of the twentieth century, it was Japan which made the breakthrough in this race for the fastest rail technology with innovation.

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe laid down the ceremonial first stone of India’s first high-speed rail line at the Athletic Stadium near the Sabarmati Railway Station in Gujarat, it showcased India’s entry from the smoke-billowing ‘chhuk-chhuk’ train, started under the British Raj some 164 years ago, to the league of those nations equipped with a high-speed ultra-modern rail network. Not only that, it is a back-to-back answer to China’s Belt and Road Initiative. A bullet train on Indian soil, under the government’s ambitious plan to modernise rail infrastructure after decades of underinvestment, is a proud moment as it indicates that Indian Railways would be obtaining the most modern technologies matching that of the developed countries.

EFFICIENT, FAST, ACCIDENT-FREE

The ultra-efficient Shinkansen train network connects cities along the length and breadth of the country. Till 2011, it also had the highest ridership annually before giving up the title to its rival China.

The trains, which run every three minute, attain the maximum speed of 320km. They are operated by companies of the Japanese Railways Group and are known for their punctuality and safety record. Sample this: crew members of the Shinkansen trains are asked to give an explanation if the train arrives a minute late to its destination.

The network boasts of zero accident fatalities in its 53-year-journey, although Japan is prone to natural disasters like earthquakes. A Google search about Shinkansen accidents streams an incident of self immolation in the train and a minor derailment due to earthquake.

The system has become synonymous with efficiency. A video on YouTube titled ‘The 7-Minute Miracle Of Japanese Train System’ was shared widely on social media websites. The clip showed crew members respectfully bowing as a Shinkansen entering the station, waiting for passengers to disembark and swiftly cleaning every car of the super speed train in seven minutes.

COSTLY, BUT ENVIRONMENT-FRIENDLY

An undated report of the Japan Railway & Transport Review said the Shinkansen project has tried to minimise noise pollution because it passes through high population density areas. Compared to other means of transport, the Shinkansen hardly emits any carbon dioxide, Nitrogen Oxide and other harmful gases. “If the Tokaido Shinkansen had not been constructed, about 15,000 tons more CO2 would have been emitted in 1985. This corresponds to the annual amount of CO2 emitted by industry in and around Tokyo,” it read.

The fares for Shinkansen were, however, costly. Former member of the railway board, RC Acharya, wrote in an article for HT in 2015 that a Shinkansen trip from Tokyo to Kyoto (514 km) costs Rs 7,700. It isn’t surprising too that the estimate fares for the proposed Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train is estimated to range between Rs.3,000 – Rs.5,000.

This new High-Speed Rail (HSR) line which would run between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, cutting the travel time down from eight hours to two or three hours for a 508-kilometers’distance is aimed to become a part of ceremonies commemorating the 75th anniversary of India’s Independence, its scheduled completion date has been moved up by one year to August 15, 2022. The total cost of this project had been approximated at 17 billion USD, of which Japan would provide a friendly loan for over 80 per cent of the value.

The Japanese government would charge interest at 0.1 per cent, over a 50-year repayment cycle along with a grace period of 15 years. Japan would also provide the HSR technology making India a potential developer of it. With an aim to unleash the unexploited potential of Asia’s two largest democracies, India and Japan had formed a ‘special strategic and global partnership’ in 2011. And, incidentally this Mumbai–Ahmedabad Shinkansen line has come within months after the announcement of the Asia-Africa Growth Corridor, which is a joint effort by both Japan and India to strengthen transportation infrastructure and development across Asia and Africa.

As China and Japan are the global giants competing for contracts to build new HSR lines and supply the rolling stock all over Asia and even in Europe, Beijing may also be eyeing the other two HSR projects in India waiting in the wings, including the proposals to construct HSR lines from Delhi to Nagpur and Delhi to Chennai. However, another reason for preferring Japan over China is that Japan does not have a history of accidents on their bullet train network. On the other hand, there remain many unanswered questions regarding the timely completion of the Mumbai–Ahmedabad Shinkansen line project. Maintaining a balance in providing better connectivity while managing costs due to the demands of the land, may escalate to become a big source of worry for the authorities. The government might face a hard time explaining even the fares – which is expected to be higher than the flight tickets between Mumbai and Ahmedabad.

With train tickets costlier than flight tickets, the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project would have to cater to at least 1.5 crore passengers a year to earn enough and repay the loans with interest on time. Acquiring 825 hectares of land for this project would be the toughest task as it covers more than 163 villages in eight districts of Gujarat and 44 villages in three districts of Maharashtra, affecting as many as 2,761 families. Besides, the safety issues for bullet trains will also be a matter of concern as it would be running at 320 kmph. Not to forget, Narendra Modi is a Prime Minister who is gradually gaining accolades for his particular brand of big stick politics – aimed to push his country into a full rebuild. Asserting that India is willing to jump on the ride to see where it goes, he said that this ambitious project would bring pace to development in the country and no country can grow if they don’t dream big. “It is a new India which has to fly high. To grow one needs to expand his dreams and decide his strengths that would be required to achieve that,” the Prime Minister said in his address at Sabarmati Ashram.

Only time can spell out the success of the much-hyped Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project, but right now, it seems that India is aiming to become a high-speed rail powerhouse, resulting in a proper upgradation of its 164-year-old conventional transportation system on the tracks. And, the Mumbai-Ahmedabad line is the first step towards this ambition.

How the Railway systems around the world raced to get their fastest trains

The quest for the fastest possible rail network had been on the agenda of countries across the world throughout the twentieth century. The concept of high speed train is used to designate any railway system that has a speed above 250 kph. While European countries like Germany and Italy had been researching and experimenting on high speed rail network since as early as the beginning of the twentieth century, it was Japan which made the breakthrough in this race for the fastest rail technology.

Japan’s headway in high speed rail technology was soon followed by France, Germany, Spain United Kingdom, United States, China, Italy, Korea and Taiwan. “This transformation of ground transportation infrastructure has become the symbol of modernity in many countries, and, from the financial perspective, high speed rail lines have become the most important projects in those countries where this innovation has been implemented,” write economists Daniel Albalate and Germa Bel in their work on the economics and politics of high speed railways.

While the government of these countries have often justified the technology in terms of commercial gains to be made and environmental benefits, they have also come under criticism regarding the economic and social burden the fast train projects might lead to. Whatever be the highs and lows of high speed rail technology, its association with modernity has made the idea of ‘fast trains’ a near necessity for any country desiring to be labeled as ‘developed’.

On Thursday, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi, along with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe, inaugurated the first high speed rail service in India, or what is popularly called the bullet train, the Indian rail industry took a leap in the direction of modern locomotives. Here is a look at few other countries who have been ahead in this race.

JAPAN

In the period following the end of the Second World War, Japan made several astounding economic gains as it benefited from Cold War politics. A product of this economic boom and the necessity of the post-war demographic situation in Japan led the country to discover high speed locomotive technology. Subsequently, the country made a breakthrough in high speed railways in 1964 with the Shinkansen or the bullet train network. At its inception, the network extended from Tokyo to Osaka. Over time it has extended to cover 2,764.6 km, linking most of the major cities in the country.

The bullet train technology inaugurated by India and Japan in Ahmedabad on Thursday rests on the same technology that made Japan the first country to successfully introduce high speed railways.

UNITED KINGDOM

On January 10, 2012, the Secretary of Transportation of the British government announced the building of a high-speed railway line between London and Birmingham, with an extension to Manchester and Leeds. Despite criticism against the project regarding the high costs it would accrue, the British government maintained that the benefits to be gained from the rail network would be much higher than the costs. The project has come under strong criticism from organisations like the Institute of Economic Affairs and the Adam Smith Institute. The media too has been critical of the project. In 2011 an article on the high speed rail project published in the weekly publication, The Economist, came out with the title “The great train robbery”.

The British government, however, had been consistent in their confidence on the project. A report on the rail network presented by the government to the Parliament stated that “the Government believes strongly that the time has come to act with the same boldness as our Victorian predecessors”.

UNITED STATES

While research and tests for high speed rail in the United States had been ongoing since the early decades of the 20th century, one of the first substantial projects date back to the High Speed Ground Transportation Act of 1965. Despite being one of the first countries to introduce high speed rail networks, it could barely spread with the same agility. A more recent development in the process has been the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act in 1991. The Act mandated the Federal Railroad Administration to identify five corridors for high speed rail network. Over time the number of such corridors identified have increased.

In April 2009, the Obama administration presented a blueprint for a national network of high speed passenger rail lines. “The purpose of the plan, as the president stated is to reduce traffic congestion, cut dependence on foreign oil, and foster livable urban and rural communities,” wrote Albalate and Bel. While the cost of the network has come under heavy criticism, a major point in support of the railways made by the government is that of environmental benefits to be made, particularly those related to energy efficiency and cutting down of air pollution.

EUROPEAN UNION

The first high speed rail line arrived in Europe in 1981 with the Train Grande Vitesse line between Paris and Lyon. The process of opening high speed rails in Europe accelerated in the late 1980s with lines opening in Germany and Spain and later in Italy. The development of high speed rail network in European countries depended on a variety of factors including the specific socio-economic and territorial needs of the states, the condition of the rail companies and the strategies adopted by the individual governments.

While high speed rail network developed at a fast pace in almost all European countries, the French and the German models gained an upper hand over all others. Developed in the 1980s and 90s, the two models became a source of inspiration for most other European countries who wished to develop fast trains strategy, this was particularly the case for Italy and Spain.

In the early 1990s, the European Union launched an ambitious plan for an integrated European high-speed network. One of the first steps taken by the Union in the process of railway reorganisation was the liberalisation of the rail economy. As of 1994, nine projects were selected for building high speed rail lines. With the enlargement of the European Union, however, the number of projects also increased over time.

India’s Prime Minister Modi, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe jointly launch India’s 1st Bullet Train project

AHMEDABAD: The foundation stone-laying ceremony at the Sabarmati Railway Station jointly by the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe official commenced with a grand reception today. The two leaders have been together in all the informal settings for the bullet train function.

Japan PM Shinzo Abe speaking at the launch of the bullet train project, starts his address with a “Namaskar”.

“I’m grateful that Japan got the opportunity to build the first Bullet Train in India. It’s a historic day, a beginning of new chapter. I am extremely happy. Two years ago a decision was taken for this project. India and Japan are key partners,” Abe says.

He speaks about how Japan decided to start a high-speed rail and how the project changed Japan in various ways. More than 100 Japanese engineers are in India for success of this high speed railway project.

He ends his speech saying, “I wish that when I come here next I come with PM Modi in a Shinkansen (Bullet Train).” He ends his speech with a Jai India, Jai Japan.

The two leaders are at the venue where the Bhoomi Puja is being conducted to lay the foundation stone of the project which is expected to be completed by 2022 at an estimated cost of Rs 1.10 lakh crore. The train would cover the distance of over 500 km in around two hours. Japan has extended a soft loan for the ambitious project conceptualised by PM Modi.

Railway minister Piyush Goyal and Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis at the venue. Fadnavis says he is proud that India’s first bullet train will connect Mumbai with Ahmedabad. Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said Prime Minister Modi wants the Bullet Train to start a year ahead of schedule – on 15 August 2022 – when India completes 75 years of independence.

Of the 508-km stretch, 92 per cent of the route will be elevated, six per cent through a tunnel and the rest on the ground. The high speed train will pass through the country’s longest tunnel of 21 km, of which seven km will be under sea.

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India moves towards Highspeed Rail systems – Foundation Stone for Ahmedabad-Mumbai Bullet Train project today

‘The bullet train can be Modi’s legacy’ says Analysts. With the laying of foundation for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train and MoU-signing ceremony attracting investments of around Rs.5 Lakh Crore, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi are set to have an eventful Thursday.

AHMEDABAD: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe, who arrived in India on Wednesday, will together launch the work for India’s first bullet train, which will connect Mumbai to Ahmedabad on Thursday in Ahmedabad. The project is likely to change the way people undertake the 508 km long journey between the two major cities.

The two leaders will hold the 12th Indo-Japan annual Summit meeting at Gandhinagar followed by the exchange of agreements. An India-Japan business plenary meeting will be held after that.

With the participation of more than 100 Japanese corporates and envoys, the Gujarat government is viewing the annual meet as a modified version of ‘Vibrant Gujarat Summit’. There are at least four Japanese corporate giants which are going to make an investments of Rs 1 lakh crore each.

The bullet train is expected to reduce the travelling time between the cities up to less than half, from the current six and a half hours (by train) to about two hours fifty minutes.  Many traders who frequently make trips between the two cities feel that this will be a boon for conducting their business and don’t mind spending Rs.3,000 for a one-way ticket during their weekly trips.

The rolling stock (carriages) of the ‘Tokaido Shinkansen’ series bullet trains has an impeccable safety record of 50 years with no case of derailment in Japan. Ironically, this launch comes at a time when the Indian Railways is being jolted time and again with cases of derailments across country due to antiquated rail system built over 160 years. Just this month, the railways saw five mishaps in a span of 24 hours.

In 1964, just before the Tokyo Olympics, Japan launched its first bullet train from Tokyo to Osaka. Fifty-three years later, in 2017, India’s Prime Minister Narendra D Modi and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will inaugurate India’s first bullet train project. The 508-km Mumbai-Ahmedabad Rail Project will be built at an estimated cost of Rs 110,000 crore (Rs 1.1 trillion). Japan will lend Rs 88,000 crore (Rs 880 billion) to this project at an interest rate of 0.1 per cent, which has to repaid in 50 years, with a 15-year grace period.

The Indian Railways has a huge problem with safety and maintenance. But this challenge also is an opportunity. It is an inflection point for the railways, where the railways can peter out from a public sector undertaking with huge State patronage, where express trains run at 70km/hour and passenger trains at 35km/hour, to a modern economic and technological power house. One way of looking at this issue is that we can be incremental – on speed, maintenance and passenger friendliness. The other way is to take a quantum leap. A country like India cannot do away with passenger trains, but a country like India, at her current state of development, cannot shy away from bullet trains either. If you want to take a quantum leap, there will be risks and this is a risk worth taking.

Amit Shah, a diamond trader based in Charni Road said that he often carries products worth lakhs of rupees while travelling and the option of commuting in a bullet train will give him the much needed sense of security. He said, “I have heard that a one-way ticket might cost us around Rs.3,000 and our diamond merchant community will be more than happy to pay that amount as we will reach Surat in the same time it takes to go there by a flight.”

However, on the other hand railway officials are happy with the choice of rolling stock because of its safety track record since it was launched in Japan in 1964. A railway official said, “the technology in the Tokaido Shinkansen series is a tested one, the train has not seen even one derailment in the last 50 years. This is a very big plus for us as the recent spate of derailments have damaged the railway’s image to a great extent.”

One of the reasons behind this clean record is probably the fact that not just the train carriages but also the technology that will is used to run the train.

 

Japan’s Shinkansen has a Fabulous Record of Zero Accidents in its Operations over more than 50 years: Sanjeev Sinha

Sanjeev Sinha, Advisor-Bullet Train Project

AHMEDABAD: Becoming Japan’s advisor for the bullet train project is certainly fulfilling for Sanjeev Sinha, the first IIT-ian of Barmer, Rajasthan, who has a niece in Ahmedabad and a brother living in Surat. Sinha will be acting primarily as the main interface between the governments of Japan and India to make the bullet train project a reality.

Sinha, who has been appointed by Japan Railways as advisor for the project, has a personal reason to inspire him in actualizing the Rs 1.08 lakh-crore project of Ahmedabad-Mumbai High Speed Rail. He recalls his childhood days in Barmer, Rajasthan, when his mother had to travel long hours in trains to reach her workplace.

“My mother was a teacher in a village near Barmer. She had to get up early to catch the 5am train to reach the school. It was a two-hour journey, though the place was not so far. Had there been speedy transportation, she could have spent more time with us,” he told, explaining why he was especially interested in this high-speed rail project.

Sinha studied at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur. He is a resident of Japan for 21 years and worked there for various firms. His wife is Japanese. He often comes to India and visits Gujarat too, as his brother lives in Surat.

Given the safety issues of Indian Railways, Sinha said that Indians can learn from Japanese Shinkansen (Bullet Train), “which has a fabulous record of zero fatal accidents in its operations over more than 50 years, despite very intricate passenger friendly operations amid earthquakes, typhoons and the difficult hilly terrain of Japan”.

For Sinha, a bullet train in India is a challenging task, but he believes that it has to be completed. To support the huge technology collaboration efforts, Sinha is also setting up an India-Japan Technology Collaboration Fund as President of Research Institute of Next Generation AI in Tokyo.

He also plans to start a centre for learning Japanese language and culture for Indian youths. He sees plenty of opportunities for Indian youths in Japan’s corporate sector and industries. “Indians have got good skills of marketing and language. Their strength lies in the existing diversity in India which makes them able to adjust anywhere in the world,” he said.

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‘Pleased’ at Indo-Japan high speed rail cooperation, says China

China currently has the world’s longest high-speed rail network. It has connected most of its cities with high speed trains reducing the travel time drastically.

NEW DELHI: As New Delhi  and Tokyo prepare to begin the construction work on India’s first bullet train corridor between Ahmedabad and Mumbai, China today said that Beijing is pleased to see the infrastructure among the regional countries including the high-speed railway.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang further said that Beijing is ready to promote cooperation with India and other countries for regional development. He also expressed interest in reviving Beijing’s proposal to build high speed railway projects in India.

China has been aggressively marketing its high-speed rail technology abroad and in the past lobbied hard to get the first contract in India. It had taken up a feasibility study for the New Delhi-Chennai corridor but no headway has been made in this regard so far. The Chinese side showed interest in the projects in India as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe prepared to lay the foundation for India’s first bullet train project.

“As to the railway cooperation, it is part of the practical cooperation between India and China. We have reached important consensus in this regard. Relevant competent authorities between the two countries maintained communication and increasing speed of railway in the current projects,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

India and China have worked out a number of cooperative agreements for the development of railways under which the Indian Railways engineers are getting trained in China in heavy hauling.

China is also cooperating with India to set up a rail university. It has also undertaken work to renovate some of the railway stations in India.

China currently has the world’s longest high-speed rail network. It has connected most of its cities with high speed trains reducing the travel time drastically.

The Indian government is confident of starting the Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train on August 15, 2022 to commemorate the 75th year of India’s Independence, a year ahead of its schedule.

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has recently said that PM Modi Modi believes that Indian engineers have the capability and our workers have the efficiency to complete it a year earlier.

PM Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe, who arrived here on a two-day visit, will on Wednesday lay the foundation stone for the project.

The 508-km-long Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed rail Project (Standard Gauge) is estimated to cost Rs 1,10,000 crore on completion. Out of the Rs 1,10,000 crore, Japan is giving a loan of Rs 88,000 crore. The interest on this loan is minimal at 0.1 per cent and it is to be repaid in 50 years, with a grace period of 15 years.

The project is expected to provide 12-15 lakh jobs. Around 20,000 in construction, 4,000 direct jobs for running the system and around 20,000 indirect jobs.

While covering the 508-km stretch between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, the train will stop at 10 stations – Thane, Virar, Boisar, Vapi, Bilimora, Surat, Bharuch, Vadodara, Anand and Sabarmati. The train would take 2 hours and 58 minutes to cover the distance if it took 10 halts, adding that with two halts – at Surat and Vadodara — the travelling time would come down to two hours and seven minutes.

The bullet train will run at an average speed of 320 km per hour with a maximum speed of 350 km per hour.

Maharashtra clear decks for allotment of 0.9 hectare land at BKC for Bullet Train project

85 per cent land survey for Bullet Train project completed. The survey for land in areas of Vasai and Palghar is currently going on.

MUMBAI: Two days before the Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, lays the foundation stone for India’s Rs 1.08 lakh-crore bullet train project, the Maharashtra government on Tuesday cleared the decks for the construction of the train’s most crucial station — Mumbai.

The Devendra Fadnavis government — which had initially opposed the Union Railway Ministry’s plan to construct the Mumbai station at Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) — on Tuesday approved the allotment of 0.9 hectare of land in the G-text block at the BKC for the station. The railways has plans to utilise 4.5 hectare space underneath the same land parcel for the bullet train station. It had approached the government for allotment of the 0.9 hectare on the surface to make arrangements for the commuters to move in and out of the station.

The state government had earlier expressed strong reservation over the proposal of building a station in the heart of its most decorated central business district. During official meetings with the Railways, it had also expressed apprehensions that allowing the underground station to come up in BKC will hamper construction of its International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) proposed on the same surface, citing construction restrictions that may be imposed around the railway corridor.

Of the 508 kilometre rail corridor connecting Ahmedabad to Mumbai, only 120 kilometre falls in Maharashtra. Four of the 12 proposed stations are to come up in the state, while the rest would be built in Gujarat.

BJP’s ally Shiv Sena, a partner in the Maharashtra government, had also raised strong opposition to the project. Incidentally, it was the Shiv Sena-controlled Maharashtra Transport department, which issued a notification on Tuesday, for the allotment of the land.

Senior Maharashtra government sources said that the state government had secured a written assurance from the Railways that there won’t be any restrictions on the construction activity for the IFSC on account of the bullet train station. Further, in compensation for the allotment of the land, the Centre has agreed to the state’s condition that land’s market value will be considered towards the state’s capital contribution for the project. While the Railways will bear 50 per cent cost of the rail project, both the Maharashtra and the Gujarat state government are to each bear 25 per cent cost.

Clearing the decks for the project, a Maharashtra cabinet sub-committee, headed by Fadnavis, and comprising Shiv Sena’s Transport Minister Diwakar Roate, and BJP’s Girish Mahajan and Vinod Tawde had approved the allotment of the land. Besides the land allotment, the Maharashtra government on Tuesday also approved the proposal for contributing Rs 5000 crore towards its capital investment in the special purpose vehicle to be floated for the bullet train work.

While the Railways have turned down the option of an alternate site for the station in Dharavi, senior sources said that the state government has also proposed an alternate land parcel for the project in BKC itself, which is being considered.

Meanwhile as part of the negotiations, sources said the Maharashtra government managed to get an assurance from the Centre for fast-tracking the Mumbai-Nagpur High Speed Train. The Central government has delegated the task of preparing a detailed project report in this regard to a Spanish corporation. The Central government has reportedly assured that it would bear a sizeable share of the capital cost for this project.

The bullet train is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet project. Japan is providing 81 per cent of the funding for the project, through a 50-year loan at 0.1 per cent annual interest. Fadnavis is expected to remain present for the foundation stone laying ceremony in Gujarat on September 14.

Almost 80 per cent of the survey for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train has been completed and the remaining tenders are expected to be out by March next year, said railway sources. The survey for land in areas of Vasai and Palghar is currently being conducted. Railway minister Piyush Goyal had on Monday said that the deadline for the bullet train corridors has now been moved forward by a year to 2022.

Railway officials have said that the land acquisition in the area had been an issue but has since been resolved between the state government and the railway ministry. They have been working overtime to ensure that a sizeable chunk of the work is completed before the stone-laying ceremony takes place on September 14 at Gandhinagar.

“Until now, there were a lot of issues in land acquisition in Vasai, Virar and Palghar because of severe local opposition. But political parties both at the state and the centre ensured that these issues were resolved before the announcement was made on Monday,” said an official. The official added, “Only one tender has been removed for the related works but the entire package of tenders will be released by March of next year and not late next year, which was the previous deadline.”  After the survey of the land, a detailed Project Report (DPR) will be made by the railways, on the basis of which the tenders will be released said officials. The survey includes the identification of the exact land needed, its physical measurement and a decision on the alignment of the tracks, whether they will be laid underground or not.

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Minister of Railways briefs Media about India’s High Speed Train Project ahead of Japanese Premier’s state visit

In the presence of Prime Minister of  India, Shri Narendra Modi and Prime Minister of Japan, Shri Shinzo Abe, Ceremony for Commencement of Work for First High Speed Train Project (popularly referred as Bullet Train) between Mumbai Ahmedabad to take place on 14th September 2017. The bullet train project will generate nearly 15 lakh jobs in India, says the Railway Ministry. 

NEW DELHI: Union Minister of Railways Piyush Goyal briefed media about Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Train Project (popularly referred to as Bullet Train project) in Rail Bhavan i.e. 11th September 2017. Minister of State for Railways & Minister of Communication (I/c), Shri Manoj Sinha was also present to brief the media. Chairman, Railway Board, Shri Ashwani Lohani and other board members were also present on the occasion.

Speaking on the occasion, Minister of Railways, Shri Piyush Goyal said, “The commencement of work on the Country’s First High Speed (Bullet train) will begin on 14th September, 2017 in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. The groundbreaking ceremony shall be held in the presence of Prime Minister of  India Shri Narendra Modi and Prime Minister of Japan, Shri Shinzo Abe. This would be a historic moment as India will gets it first bullet train.

It was envisioned by Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi to take Indian Railways towards most modern technologies like developed countries. This bullet train is an endeavour to bring economic growth & prosperity in the country with the growth of  Indian Railways adopting most modern technologies. New Shinkansen Technology by the Japanese shall ensure more growth opportunities. The cost will go down further as the technology will grow massively and it will be developed under Make in India. The financial assistance given by Japan is at a minimal interest and will not be a burden as it will be paid after 50 years at a minimal interest. This technology will revolutionize and transform the transport sector of India. This is an occasion to celebrate the advent of the most modern technology in India. It shall also benefit the farmers for transportation of agricultural produce in a fast mode.”

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Background:

This Mumbai–Ahmedabad High Speed Rail (MAHSR) project (popularly known as the Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train) is a  visionary project which will herald a new era of safety, speed and service for the people and help Indian Railways become an international leader in scale, speed and skill.

Low cost of the project:

The 508-km Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail Project would be made in an estimated cost of Rs 1,10,000 crore with a loan of Rs 88,000 crore from Japan. The interest on this loan would be as low as 0.1%.  The loan would be given back within 50 years. Piyush Goyal told reporters that the grace period of another 15 years has also been given by Japan.

  • Major portions of large scale infrastructure projects are financed by debt, and the cost of debt is a significant portion of the total costs. As a part of cooperation agreement between India and Japan, Government of Japan will provide a soft loan of about Rs. 88,000 crore at miniscule interest rate of 0.1%. The repayment period of the loan is 50 years.Repayment of loan is to begin after 15 years of receiving the loan, making it practically free since, this loan interest works out to roughly Rs. 7-8 crore per month.
  • Generally, any such loan even from World Bank or such other agencies costs about 5-7% with a repayment period of 25-35 years, thus India is getting loan for the High-Speed Rail Project at almost zero cost without putting any strain on existing financial resources available with the country, as more than 80% of the project cost is being funded by Government of Japan. Clearly Peter is not paying for Paul.
  • It is for the first time in the history of the country that an infrastructure project is being funded on such favourable terms.

Make in India:

  • One of the prime objectives of the project is “Make in India”, which is to be realized before commissioning of the project.
  • As per the agreement between Governments, the MAHSR Project has “Make in India” & “Transfer of technology” objectives.Under the guidance of task force (DIPP and Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO)), action is being taken as per accepted concept paper guidelines.
  • Four sub-groups with representatives from Indian industry, Japanese industry, DIPP, NHSRCL & JETRO to identify potential items & sub-systems for make in India.
  • Active interactions are already taking place between the industries of India and Japan. It is expected that many joint ventures will be formed in the time to come to take up manufacturing of various components including rolling stock. This will not only benefit the Indian Industry with new technology but will also create several job opportunities within the country.
  • The Make in India objective will also ensure that most of the amount invested in this project would be spent and utilized within India.
  • The construction sector in India will also get a big boost not only in terms of investment but also with respect to new technology and work culture.
  • This project is likely to generate employment for about 20,000 workers during the construction phase, who will be trained specially to take up construction of such projects in India. Some of the new areas where construction skills would be developed are ballast-less track, under sea tunnel etc.
  • A dedicated High Speed Rail Training Institute is being developed at Vadodara. This institute will be fully equipped with equipment and facilities such as simulator etc. as are existing in the training institute at Japan. This institute will be functional by the end of 2020.The facilities at this institute will be utilized to train about 4,000 staff in next three years, who will then be utilised for operation and maintenance ensuring that this work is through skilled people in India rather than foreign dependent. They will also serve as a backbone for future development of other High Speed Corridors in India.
  • In addition, 300 young officials of Indian Railways are being trained in Japan to give them exposure in high Speed Track Technology.
  • Keeping in view the long-term plan for human resource development, Government of Japan has also offered 20 seats per year for Master’s course from the universities of Japan, for serving Indian Railway officials. This programme is fully funded by Government of Japan.

Cutting-edge versus Catch-up Technology:

  • Unlike other areas,for high speed, country is getting a cutting-edge technology in totality. The Shinkansen Technology is known for its reliability and safety and is proven for more than 50 years. The train delay record of Shinkansen is less than a minute with zero fatality.
  • Thus,the project is set to provide reliable and comfortable service with high standards of safety. The technology regarding disaster predictions and preventions will also be acquired as a part of the project. Such safety systems ensure that the train operation safety is maintained in case of any natural calamity such as earthquake etc.
  • With the presence and availability of this technology, India will be leapfrog to the cutting edge of latest train developments with passengers able to reach their destination in 2 hours as against the current 7-8 hours by train.
  • As the engineering staff learns the latest technology it will also help in developing the same in India
  • Keeping this scale-up in mind, there are other high speed corridors which are being reviewed –  Delhi Kolkata, Delhi Mumbai, Mumbai Chennai, Delhi-Chandigarh, Mumbai-Nagpur, Delhi- Nagpur. All these corridors will also be able to operate high speed trains in the future. For this, the Ministry of Railways has constituted the National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited, which is also implementing this MAHSR project.

Salient Features of Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail Project:

Overview:

  • HSR: Defined as Railway Systems Running Trains at Speeds in excess of 250 kmph. Presently, available in 15 countries
  • India was a lone exception among major passenger railway systems not to have one
  • Feasibility study undertaken by Japanese Consultants in December 2013 and report submitted in July 2015
  • Recommendation of Empowered Committee for Innovative Collaborations (Chaired by Vice Chairman,NITI Aayog) and sanction by Cabinet in December, 2015.
  • Planned completion by December 2023
  • All-out efforts will be made to complete it by 15th August 2022

Key Features:

  • Length 508 KMs (approx.), doubleline through two states, Maharashtra (156 KMs) and Gujarat (351 KMs) and UT of Dadra and Nagar Haveli (2 KMs).
  • Longest tunnel 21 KM switch 7 KMs undersea (Thane Creek).
  • 12 stations: Mumbai, Thane, Virar, Boisar, Vapi, Bilimora, Surat, Bharuch, Vadodara,Anand, Ahmedabad,Sabarmati. Underground station Mumbai, all others elevated.
  • Maximum Design Speed – 350 kmph;
  • Maximum Operating speed of 320 kmph.
  • Journey Time: 2.07 Hrs (limited stops), 2.58hrs (stopping at stations) vis-à-vis existing train travel time of 7-8 hours

Low Cost, High Speed:

  • Cost estimated at Rs.1,08,000 crore-entire corridor elevated for safety and land economy.
  • 81% of the project cost by Japanese soft loan at 0.1%per annum with repayment period 50 years–including grace period of 15 years.
  • Project funded by a loan on terms which tantamount to a grant.
  • First time in India that an infrastructure project is being funded under such favourable terms

“Make in India”

  • As per the agreement between Governments,the MAHAR Project has “Make in India” & “Transfer of technology” objectives.
  • Under The Guidance Of Taskforce (DIPP and JETRO), accepted concept paper action is being taken as per guidelines
  • Four Sub-groups with representatives from Indian industry, Japanese Industry, DIPP, NHSRCL, JETRO to identify potential items /subsystems / activities for make in India.
  • Four Subgroups-Track,Civil,Rolling Stock,Electrical and S&T

Best tech available to India:

  • Will launch Indian Railways to be select club of countries having the state of the art technology.
  • Shinkansen Technology Known for reliability and safety with proven track record of more than 50 years
  • Punctuality record is less than a minute with zero fatality
  • Reliable and comfortable services
  • Project Comes with technical support and handholding of the Japanese–will ensure complete transfer of know-how to Indians for future projects
  • High Speed Rail Training Institute at Vadodara to train 4,000 staff for operations and maintenance

Boost to Economy & Employment

  • 20,000 construction jobs
  • 4,000direct employment for operations and 20,000 indirect jobs too
  • Boost To Urban And Industrial Development Along The corridor
  • Ease Of Travel Between Cities And Enormous Capacity for commuting
  • Capacity building for other high speed projects

Ground Breaking Ceremony:

  • Project Commencement function is Sabarmati on 14.09.2017 by Shri Narendra Modi, Prime Minister and H.E. Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan
  • Will mark the commencement of the Project and laying of foundation stone for the High Speed training Institute at Vadodara

Project Status: Major progress made

  • National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited, incorporated with equity by Ministry of Railways, Governments of Gujarat and Maharashtra in February 2016.
  • General Consultant (GC) & Environment Consultant appointed.
  • Schedule of Dimensions (SOD) and Manual of Standards and Specifications for track, tunnels, bridges, Signalling, Telecom and OCC finalised.
  • Ground Survey completed using Aerial LiDAR Technique.
  • Geotechnical Investigations substantially completed.
  • Social Impact Assessment (SIA) consultant for Gujarat and Maharashtra appointed.
  • Land acquisition- ROW requirement is under finalisation.

Number of Rides:

The train will make 70 Ahmedabad-Mumbai rides. Reportedly, a total of 24 high-speed trains will be imported from Japan and then rest of the rakes will be manufactured in India. Also, the officials stated that the reason behind giving this project to Japan is that the nations has been running the trains since many years without a single accident that ever happened on its bulet trains.

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Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train project ready for takeoff; Modi, Shinzo Abe to lay foundation on Sept 14

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe will lay the foundation stone for the India’s first bullet train project connecting Ahmedabad to Mumbai on Thursday. The high speed train will cut travel time between Mumbai and Ahmedabad by at least five hours.

MUMBAI: India’s ambitious High Speed Rail (HSR) project is now at the take-off stage, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe scheduled to lay the foundation stone of the 508-km long Mumbai-Ahmadabad High Speed Rail (MAHSR) on September 14 in Ahmedabad.

Once complete (scheduled in December 2023, but commencement date sought to be advanced to August 2022), the train which will have a top speed of 350 km per hour will reduce travel time between the two cities to around 2 hours from the existing 7-8 hours.

“The project will integrate the Indian Railways to the global transportation technology and will help rewrite India’s transport infrastructure narrative,” railways minister Piyush Goyal said at a press conference.

“Unfortunately, Indian railways have not graduated from the colonial-era technologies and practices in past four or five decades. Exposure to the high speed technology (popularly called the bullet trains) will enable rail engineers in India to innovate and modernize systems and practices,” Goyal said.

He emphasized that the project funding had come from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) at a low rate of interest of 0.1% per annum. “The project will also enable creation of around 15 lakh jobs,” the minister said, adding that passenger fares on the premium train were likely to be lower than the air fares between the two cities.

“This bullet train is an endeavour to bring economic growth and prosperity in the country with the growth of Indian railways adopting most modern technologies. New Shinkansen Technology by the Japanese shall ensure more growth opportunities. The cost will go down further as the technology will grow massively and it will be developed under Make in India programme. This is an occasion to celebrate the advent of the most modern technology in India. It shall also benefit the farmers for transportation of agricultural produce in a fast mode,” the minister said.

Chairman Railway Board Ashwani Lohani said, “The Modi government’s astuteness in securing favorable deals through deft diplomacy, innovative financing, and efficient implementation indeed stands out in this case. The bullet train will come to India almost for free.”

Speaking about plans to set up a High Speed Rail Training Institute at Vadodara, Lohani said the centre would provide equipment, ancillary facilities, and trained personnel, emulating the training institute at Japan.

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“The setting up of the institute signifies the government’s intent and commitment towards creating a suitable indigenous workforce for this as well as future bullet trains. The Japanese government while taking consideration of India’s long-term plan for human resource development has also offered training of Indian railways officials in Japan besides reserving fully funded seats for the Master’s course in the universities of Japan for serving Indian railways officials,” Lohani added.

While assuring the transportation revolution, which the new Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet train will bring, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, on Monday, drew parallel to the criticism Suzuki faced when Maruti was brought in 30 years ago. When we partnered, lots of people criticized, he said.

“I’d like to draw a parallel to Maruti Suzuki. When we partnered with Suzuki to bring in Maruti, a lot of people criticised the move. Can we imagine now that those two models, which isn’t even made anymore, changed the way we travel,” he said.

Goyal further said that Maruti Suzuki paved the way for a change in the transportation sector, with a hope that the Bullet Train will bring about a similar change in the country.

He said, “It was a matter of 30 years. The old technology became redundant and the whole country is travelling in new cars. I am sure that the bullet train will transform the transportation sector of India in future.”

He quelled the fear of the “naysayers”, saying that the people with optimistic thinking will help India move ahead.

Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe will also be visiting India to attend the `Bhoomi Pooja` and foundation stone laying ceremony of the Rs. 97,636-crore Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed rail link, using Japanese bullet-train technology.

During the visit, Prime Minister Abe will also hold bilateral talks with Prime Minister Modi and is expected to serve as the “top salesman” for the adoption of the Shinkansen technology by other Indian railway systems, with China also aiming to win orders for the projects, the Japan Times had reported, earlier in August.

The 500-km railway will link Mumbai and Ahmedabad in Western India, with services planned to commence in 2023. This train is based on Japanese high-speed technology called Shinkansen, known for its safety and comfort.

India has pledged to build high-speed railways, focused on the four major cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai.

When Prime Minister Modi went to Japan last November, he travelled by Shinkansen with his Japanese counterpart from Tokyo to Kobe to visit a bullet-train plant of Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd., a maker of Shinkansen cars.

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Sanjeev Sinha named Adviser for Rs.1.1 Lakh Crore Ahmedabad-Mumbai Bullet Train Project

The development comes in the wake of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese premier Shinzo Abe to kick-start India’s first bullet train project on Sept 14, 2017.

MUMBAI: Sanjeev Sinha, former Tata executive in Tokyo and the first IIT-ian from Barmer, Rajasthan, has been appointed as adviser for the Ahmedabad-Mumbai High Speed Rail project by Japan Railways.

The ground-breaking ceremony for the project, estimated to cost about Rs 1 lakh crore, is planned in Ahmedabad on September 14 in the presence of Prime Ministers Shinzo Abe and Narendra Modi.

The project, largely funded by low-cost financing from Japan, is planned to be built based on Japanese technology by a consortium of six rail companies under the aegis of Japan International Consultants or Japan Railways Group, along with the National High Speed Rail Corporation, a three-way alliance between the Gujarat and Maharashtra state governments and the urban development ministry.

Japan is a pioneer in high-speed rail networks, and its Shinkansen bullet train is among the fastest in the world. Japan will provide 85 percent of the total project cost of $19 billion in soft loans. The train will reduce the travel time between the two cities from eight to three-3.5 hours, and is expected to complete by December 2023. It will have a capacity of 750 passengers.

With an interest rate of a negligible 0.1% over an exceptionally long 50-year term and repayment moratorium for the first 15 years, the funding from Japan for the High Speed Rail, called Shinkansen in Japan, is almost like a grant based on standard financial valuation calculations.

“I will be the interface between the two governments. This is a prestigious project but extremely complex. Converting the political will into actual execution will take a lot of effort,” Sinha said in a phone interview from his Tokyo home on Sunday, a day before flying out to Hyderabad.

The Indian government expects the 508-km project that will connect Sabarmati, Surat and Vadodara, among other places, to be completed by May 2023. Twothirds of the project will be within Gujarat, Modi’s home state.

“The Japanese agencies have largely worked within the country except for the Taiwan bullet train project. They want to understand the complexities of Indian regulation, the federal structure and how that impacts key issues of land acquisition, tax and fiscal structures and railways. For some of them, even English-speaking human resources is a major challenge. Then comes the massive civil engineering issues,” Sinha added.

Born in 1973 in Rajasthan, Sinha graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, in 1995 after a five-year Integrated MSc course in physics. After working with Indian conglomerate Godrej, he went to Japan to join GenTech Corp. for R&D in Artificial Intelligence in 1996, leading to some of the key technologies for current automated driving systems.

While acquiring another masters in finance, Sinha built a career working with Goldman Sachs, Mizuho Securities and UBS. He then became the chief country representative for Tata Asset Management and Tata Realty and Infrastructure, before becoming a consultant with PwC.

“I plan to meet the new railways minister in the coming weeks… I have been interacting with Suresh Prabhu for a long time. He came to Japan many times and had implemented key takeaways from here, like the privatisation of railway platforms,” said Sinha, who first organised a conference on bullet trains for both sides in Tokyo in 2013. To support the huge technology collaboration efforts, Sinha is setting up an India Japan Technology Collaboration Fund for partnerships on AI initiatives, nicknamed RingAI.jp.

RingAI.jp is co-organising a startup Master Class boot camp with the IIT Kanpur Alumni Association of Pune on September 16 to award breakthrough projects in the field. The event is likely to be attended by Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar and Baba Kalyani, Chairman of Bharat Forge and a member of the board of Hitachi, a major conglomerate of Japan involved in the Ahmedabad-Mumbai Shinkansen project. The winners will be flown into Japan for an investment road show later this year. Concerned about the spate of recent railway accidents in India and the loss of lives, Sinha said safety is paramount and the Japanese government is already helping its Indian counterparts with a blueprint.

“I believe Japan International Cooperation Agency that is already involved with Mumbai and Delhi metro projects have been assigned to study safety measures,” he said.

Sinha argues bullet trains, with speeds of 285 km per hour, can’t be built overnight and need “meticulous planning.” He is confident that the railways can work along with the new hi-tech projects and learn best practices.

“India’s rail network is vast but behind several developing nations. I hope the Japanese Shinkansen with a fabulous record of zero fatal accidents in its operations over more than 50 years despite very intricate passenger friendly operations amidst earthquakes, typhoons and a very difficult hilly terrain of Japan, acts as a benchmark. We can’t wait any further.” For over two decades, Sinha has been promoting interaction among industrialists, parliamentarians, bureaucrats and academicians between the two countries with specific work on the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor, Andhra Pradesh’s new capital project and Japanese financing of about $400 million for IIT Hyderabad, among others.

Railways draw Blueprint for a Semi-highspeed Rail Corridor between Hyderabad-Nagpur

SECUNDERABAD: A rail journey between Maharashtra’s winter capital Nagpur and the city of pearls, Hyderabad, may take a mere three hours, down from the nine that most trains take now, if a plan is put into action, a senior official said.

The railways has drawn a blueprint for a semi-high speed corridor linking the two commercial hubs, the official added.

“The ministry has initiated a joint feasibility and implementation study with Russian Railways to chalk out details after which it will be sent to the Railway Board for approval,” the senior ministry official said.

The Railways planned to cash in on the fact that at present there were no direct flights between the two cities. A flight with a stopover could take four hours or more.

Currently, the 584-km stretch is covered by the Railways at an average speed of 60km/hr in a minimum of nine hours.

The railways is planning to run the trains at a speed of 160-200km/hr by strengthening the existing tracks and fencing off the route to complete the journey in less than three hours.

Semi-high speed trains can gather a maximum speed of 200 km/hr, while faster ones in the category of high-speed or bullet trains can run at 250-350 km/hr.

The Delhi-Chandigarh corridor, one of the busiest routes in north India, is slated to be the first semi-high speed project being taken up by the Railways with French help. It will enable trains to run at a maximum speed of 200km/hr.

Flight Of Fancy? China Reveals Plans For 4,000kph Flying Trains!

Chinese state-owned China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASIC) has revealed its plans to one day build a flying train that could reach speeds of up to 4,000kph. The plans from the Chinese state-owned organisation call for the use of Maglev trains that would be able to ‘fly on the ground.’ China was one of the pioneers of the use of Maglev trains, and has an operational 30.5-kilometre line that connects the Shanghai International Airport to the city.

However, the lack of success of the same Shanghai line, saw Chinese Railways go along the regular high-speed railway route to get trains to go fast and its fast trains currently run as fast as 320kph. However, the new ‘flying trains’ will borrow tech from its potential rival, Hyperloop (first envisioned by Elon Musk), which too recently hit a top speed of 324kph. The planned ultra-fast CASIC maglev trains will like Hyperloop run inside a vacuum tube and will initially hit speeds of 1,000kph. Trains travelling between Chinese megacities will be twice as fast while the fastest trains travelling on international routes will hit a top speed of 4,000kph. However, CASIC claims that the train’s acceleration speeds will be slower than a plane taking off to keep passengers safe.

“While CASIC’s vacuum tube maglev shows the heights of China’s dreams for its high-speed rail network, however, considering that only astronauts and spy plane pilots in pressurised space suits have hit such crazy speeds, we really don’t know if the regular human body will be able to withstand such high speeds. Unless CASIC starts handing out space suits to each of its travellers (which will increase the time taken at stations and travelling), we really don’t know how this fantastical maglev dream will ever come true”, opined an observer of this development.

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies sign MOU with Andhra Pradesh Economic Development Board

File Pic: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu meeting with Hyperloop Transportation Technologies Chairman and Co-Founder Mr. Bibop G. Gresta at Davos in January 2017. Theirs is a very good alternative to high speed rail and their technology is superior to bullet train or speed rail, in terms of energy consumption, and costs, he said earlier. Mr. Bibop mentioned that Hyperloop is now looking for collaborations in India

AMARAVATI (VIJAYAWADA): Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT), an American research firm formed using crowd collaboration to develop ultra-high-speed transportation system based on Hyperloop concept, has agreed to build India’s first Hyperloop, connecting Andhra Pradesh’s proposed Greenfield capital city Amaravati and Vijayawada.

HTT has on Wednesday signed a memorandum of understanding with the Andhra Pradesh Economic Development Board (APEDB), marking it first such agreement in India for the new transportation system.

Andhra Pradesh is India’s seventh largest state with a population of over 50 million.

The public private partnership (PPP) model, with funding primarily from private investors, will potentially turn a trip of more than an hour into a 5-minute ride between Amaravati and Vijayawada.

HTT said it will conduct a six-month feasibility study commencing in October during first phase.

“The project will involve little over $200 million of investment and take a year or so to complete it once all the approvals and Right of Way were in place,” Krishna Kishore, Chief Executive of APEDB, told.

“We are extremely delighted to have entered into a MoU with the government of Andhra Pradesh to bring the HTT Hyperloop to India,” said Bibop Gresta, Chairman and co-founder of HTT, in a statement. “In partnering with Andhra Pradesh, HTT will work with local stakeholders to build the regulatory standards necessary for safe and efficient operation.”

HTT said it will conduct a six-month feasibility study commencing in October during first phase. Working with partners in the public and private sector, HTT proposes to analyse the surrounding cityscapes to create the best route between the two cities while identifying all pertinent stakeholders in the region. After completing the feasibility, HTT in the second phase of the project proposes to construct and build its first Hyperloop in India.

“By collaborating with Hyperloop, Amravati is embracing a prototype for the mobility of tomorrow,” said Krishna Kishore of APEDB in a statement.

“India is entering into a new era in terms of technology and our goal is to put India on the global map by developing and implementing green technologies, the first Hyperloop in Amravati,” said Aviruk Chakraborty, advisor to APEDB.

It’s a good place to begin building a Hyperloop, with the distance between the two cities only being around 27-miles. Journey times right now are around the 70 minute mark, but the company claims that it can shrink that to just six minutes when finished.

The deal is structured as a public-private partnership, although nobody’s revealing just how much cash (and concessions) Andhra Pradesh is offering. The release does mention, explicitly, that the majority of the money will come “primarily from private investors,” although these things have a habit of costing the taxpayer in the end.

If completed, however, it would serve as a big win for India to boast that it has the world’s first operating Hyperloop and should provide an economic boon to the region. It will also provide a useful proving ground for a country that has its own deep attachment to the railway and its future.

High Speed Rail has the potential to transform Rail Travel and Bolster the Economy: Raghu Dayal, former CMD/CONCOR

The very mention of high speed rail or bullet train often elicits images of exorbitantly expensive infrastructure projects. High speed rail or HSR, which basically means trains running on dedicated lines at 250 km/h or higher has almost everywhere been initially dubbed as elitist. And India is no exception.

Just as it was asked in the case of the pioneer Shinkansen in Japan and later TGV in France, a general query is posed here too: isn’t HSR a case of muddled priorities in India? Why do we need such a capital-guzzling project when many other pressing issues need resources?

Let us get the perspective right. India’s pioneering 500-km ‘bullet’ train corridor between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, being executed in collaboration with Gujarat and Maharashtra, in no way crowds out any of Indian Railways’ projects and schemes. Japan’s offer of the $12 billion assistance at highly concessional terms is not transferable to other rail projects.

HSR advantage

A few selected high-density HSR corridors are amply justified for a mature mobility mix, to unlock an immense hidden value, and for the country not to be left out of essential technology upgrade. A nation of India’s size, potential and aspirations has to envision its destiny, sometimes with, what may appear, irrational exuberance.

As a McKinsey report suggests, by 2025, the number of households earning ₹2,00,000-₹10,00,000 annually will have risen to 583 million from the current 50 million. More intensive urbanisation as well as rising incomes would lead to higher travel propensity.

It is inconceivable that the Railways would continue to deny itself a peep into the rapid technological and commercial transformation railway systems world over experience.

Concerns over depleting fossil fuel reserves, climate change, overcrowded airports, delayed flights and congested roads have conspired against the HSR technology alternative.

Energy-efficient and environmentally benign, a high-speed electric train emits an eight and a fifth of carbon dioxide as against automobiles and airplanes per passenger km, respectively. A double-track rail line has more than thrice the passenger carrying capacity of a six-lane highway while requiring less than half the land.

Apart from diverting passengers from road and air, HSRgenerates a new class of passengers as well. With the average operating speeds of around 250 km/h, HSR helps bring settlements 500 km apart within two hours of each other. Designed to be faster than a car, while also cheaper and more convenient than a plane, HSR has been a catalyst for economic growth, a stimulus for the development of satellite towns, helping alleviate migration to metropolises. Providing services from and to city centres, HSR serves important centres en route, providing value for time through express and easy access to tier-II and tier-III cities.

HSR’s unblemished safety record is an important benefit: with a 2,500-km network, providing high frequency, up to 14 trains per hour, the Shinkansen ever since its inception in 1964 has maintained a unique record of no fatal accident. The TGV has been running without any accidents for the last 30 years, and more.

Global best practice

Today, most large railway systems have HSR. The TGV operating on some routes every five minutes is hailed as the real “low-cost” carrier. Shinkansen has emerged as an invaluable part of Japan’s mobility and economy. With already a 22,000-km sprawling high speed PDL (passenger dedicated lines) network, longest for any country, China is set to extend it to 30,000 km by 2020, when its total rail routes aggregate to 200,000 km. Less than a decade ago, China had no HSR; now its high speed trains move twice as many passengers as its airlines, and the demand keeps growing.

In India, clamour constantly increases for passenger trains providing hassle-free, speedy, safe, reliable and comfortable travel. Already, Indians are travelling more; they are travelling longer. By 2020-21, Indians will travel on average thrice as much as they travelled in 2000-01. The Railways has woefully lagged in substantially extending, accelerating and modernising its infrastructure and services.

The Railways needs to segregate its passenger business from freight, for better focus and orientation, enabling it to quickly pluck some ‘low hanging fruits’. It should upgrade the wherewithal for ‘semi high speed’ inter-city trains for, say, 10-12-hour journeys on Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Kolkata Rajdhanis and 3-4 hour commuting on Shatabdis.

The Railways needs to restructure its services and tariffs to be able to reposition rail travel in preference to car as well as airlines. Its annual loss currently estimated at ₹30,000 crore from the passenger business is untenable.

More than suburban passenger traffic the ordinary second class fare is responsible for losses. There appears no rationale, for example, for non-suburban commuters availing of season ticket concession up to a distance of 150 km; this segment, though amounting to 22.1 per cent of non-suburban travellers in 2015-16, contributed a meagre 1.3 per cent of earnings.

A win-win

HSR fares are normally higher than classic rail services for increased speed, reliability and comfort. HSR stations are as a rule as comfortable and attractive as airports. The Shinkansen fare includes a surcharge that doubles the fare for conventional trains. HSR fares in China are around thrice the conventional train fares. Revenues from fare box collections are appreciably buttressed, in particular by commercial developments in and around HSR stations. Japan’s JR East Group operates over 40 hotels, offers some 177,000 retail locations at stations, and earns advertising revenues from 17 million daily passengers.

The Railways operates a daily average of over 13,000 passenger trains — including about 3,400 long distance inter-city mail and express services, 4,700 short distance stopping “regional” trains, and around 5,000 sub-urban ‘locals’, mostly in Mumbai and Kolkata. Slow sectional trains among the ‘regional’ services contribute the maximum loss in passenger business.

They also have multiple stops and consume a substantial portion of scarce movement capacity, including on high density routes. An autonomous corporate entity, if put in place under the Railways’ umbrella, would be better equipped to manage all sectional/regional passenger services including specific short distance suburban streams on the system.

The Railways must ensure the Ahmedabad-Mumbai HSR project is commissioned within stipulated time and cost. It needs to keep the other six designated HSR corridors on radar, feasibility studies for which have already been completed.

Additional detailed techno-economic studies strangely awarded by the Railways for 350 km/h trains corridors on arterial routes along the golden quadrilateral and its diagonals are prima facie ill conceived.

As a thumb rule, for high density routes of 200-800 km, airlines cannot match HSR in terms of total journey time inclusive of first/last-mile connectivity with airports/stations and ancillary security checks, etc; below 200 km, road transport has an edge; beyond 800 km, air option is better placed.

Foundation Stone for India’s first Bullet Train ready prior to Japan PM Shinzo Abe‘s visit to India

Indian Railways Bullet Train Project set to take off with Shinzo Abe’s Visit. Modi, Japanese PM to lay bullet train foundation in Ahmedabad next month.

NEW DELHI: Plans to run India’s first bullet trains that will race between Mumbai and Ahmedabad will soon get off the drawing board. Visiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will next month lay the foundation stone for the trains that could run at speeds of 350 kilometre an hour.

The project is expected to be completed for the first ride in the next six years.

The bullet train will reduce the journey between Ahmedabad and Mumbai to two hours from seven; there are a total of 12 stations on the 508-km route – four of which are in Maharashtra and eight in Gujarat. Sources told that the bullet train on this route would mostly, 92 per cent, run on elevated tracks.

The bullet train will start underground from the Bandra-Kurla Complex in Mumbai and travel 27 km through a tunnel in the sea before emerging over ground at Thane. It is estimated to cost about Rs. 97,636 crore.

“The entire funding for this or more or less 85 per cent of this will come from the Japanese and that too on very soft terms,” Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu told the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.

Also Readhttp://www.railnews.in/category/highspeed-bullet-trains/

But other cities too are going to get faster trains. Mr Prabhu said his ministry had drawn up maps for high-speed corridors on different routes between Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Mysuru and Bengaluru that would let trains touch speeds of 350 km an hour. On other routes such as Chennai-Hyderabad and Chennai-Mysuru, there would be trains that travel at speeds ranging from 160 to 250 km.

That, however, is the plan. For now, the minister conceded that India’s fastest trains – the Rajdhani and Duronto – were getting delayed because of heavy traffic on the lines. Some networks are operating at 160 per cent to 170 per cent of the capacity,” he said.

Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu said the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed rail project has been sanctioned for implementation with technical and financial assistance of the Japanese government. “Procurement of high speed rolling stock is an integral part of the project that envisages promoting ‘Make-in-India’ of high speed rolling stock in a phased manner,” he said.

Around 85 per cent of the funding for the project would come from the Japanese and that too on “very soft terms”. “This is the best soft term under the Overseas Development Assistance,” he added.

In reply to a query as to why Rajdhani and Duronto trains are getting delayed, Prabhu said a major reason for train delays is heavy congestion as there has been a significant increase in traffic compared to the railway infrastructure.

Delhi-Chandigarh Corridor to get first ever Semi-Highspeed Train route as India ties up with French Railways

Soon, you can reach from Delhi to Chandigarh in just two hours! This route is a semi-high speed project being taken up by the Indian Railways

NEW DELHI: The Indian Railways is going full steam to achieve the target of covering the 245-km long Delhi-Chandigarh distance in flat two hours despite many curves on the proposed semi-high speed route.

The Delhi-Chandigarh corridor, one of the busiest routes in north India, is slated to be first semi-high speed project being taken up by the state-owned transporter to run trains at maximum speeds of 200 kmph with French help.

There are about 10 major curves spanning over 32 km on the existing Delhi-Chandigarh rail route.

The public transporter will not go for land acquisition required for straightening up several curves on the Delhi-Chandigarh semi-high speed corridor and instead opt for slowing down while negotiating the track, according to the railways.

The earlier plan was to straighten up these curves to facilitate uninterrupted speed on the semi-high speed route, said a senior Railway ministry official involved with the semi-high speed project.

However, since it requires acquiring land for the purpose which is a time-consuming process, railways decided not to go for land acquisition to avoid delay.

In a recent review meeting with the French team, it was decided to avoid land acquisition and instead make some adjustment on curves as much as possible on the existing railway land, he said.

However, the official said, despite curves, the target of reaching Chandigarh in two hours will be achieved.

SNCF, the French railways, has been assigned the task of submitting the execution strategy and implementation model with detailed cost of the semi-high speed project involving upgradation of the Chandigarh route.

The French team will submit the final report with details of cost analysis and technical parameter by October.

According to a rough estimate, it is likely to cost over Rs 10,000 crore with about Rs 46 crore per kilometre for running trains at 200 kmh, which includes rolling stock and signal and track upgradation on the Chandigarh corridor.

Currently, the Shatabdi Express covers the 245 km distance in about three hours and 30 minutes travelling at a maximum speed of 110 kmh.

Enterprising Students from BITS-Pilani set foot on building a Hyperloop that travels at 1200 Kmph

Even as Hyperloop One is liaising with the Indian government to bring the Hyperloop to India, an Indian student team is preparing to demonstrate its own Hyperloop technology at the SpaceX headquarters in California. The team is supported and mentored by organisations like Invest India, RITES, NITI Aayog and Indian Railways,after collaboration with IIMs, IITs and ISB on the feasibility of the project.

PILANI: Hyperloop India, a team run by BITS Pilani students, is now a finalist in Elon Musk’s Hyperloop challenge. Over a thousand student teams had participated in the competition, and 24 of the best designs from across the world were selected. These 24 teams will travel to California, pods in tow, where they will vie to be the fastest to travel the 1 mile distance on a specially constructed track.

Presently, India is making way for Bullet trains to move parallel with the first and second world countries but a group of enterprising students from BITS Pilani have already set foot much farther than this. Currently, they are working on building a hyperloop, which is much, much faster that bullet trains.

It’s likely that the pods will go very fast — Hyperloop technology can transport people at over 1000 kms per hour. It was first proposed by Elon Musk in 2013, who’d then claimed it would become the fifth mode of transport after cars, planes, trains and ships. Hyperloop systems consist of pressurized pods, which travel through steel vacuum tubes using a linear electric motor.

While no working prototypes exist, several private companies are engaged in developing their own solutions. Among the most prominent is Hyperloop One, which had carried out a public test of a rudimentary pod last year, and had declared it to be successful. Hyperloop One had then sent executives over to India, and had released a list of routes where it could build its tubes with some tantalizing timings — a Hyperloop One pod could, for instance, transport people from Mumbai to Delhi in just over an hour.

That’s what appears to have motivated the Hyperloop India team, which describes India’s transportation problem in delightfully nerdy terms. “India’s transport problem is an obvious “sysadmin” issue – A legacy system from the colonial rule running the world’s fastest growing economy,” the team says. They initially found the Hyperloop solution crazy, but felt it deserved a chance. “It was a pity that no one here was trying to work on it! So we decided to at least start trying to do something about it.”

They grouped together into a team of 60 in 2015, and started working on their design. Hyperloop India works out of 5000 square foot space under the Halasuru metro station in Bangalore. Their pod is called the OrcaPod, and promises to be safe, feasible, and hopefully for the SpaceX competition, fast. People have begun to take notice of their efforts — Ripple technologies, an engineering services provider is helping the team create and manufacture its components, and corporates such as Bangalore Metro, and BEML India have lent their support. The team is also running a crowdfunding campaign to help raise money to manufacture the pod — in order to manufacture the pod, the team needs to raise around 20 lakh over the next few weeks.

For instance, a bullet train would take about two hours to cover the distance between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, rushing at the speed of 320-350 km per hour maximum. The hyperloop reduces that time to merely 40 minutes, advancing at the anomalous speed of 1,200 km per hour. The idea sure sounds thrilling and quite unbelievable, and yet, is being worked upon by the young minds of BITS Pilani.

They take their inspiration from the ground-breaking “Hyperloop” travel idea of billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, and are about to complete the final stage of building “Hyperloop India’s” single-compartment capsule or pod. They have planned to present and test the same in late August at the Musk-owned SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, in the final round of a global contest that was initiated in 2015.

A BE final year student at BITS Pilani and a member of what is being called Team Hyperloop, Prithvi Shankar says:

Hyperloop is tube travel wherein you have a vehicle that is magnetically levitated and propelled inside a vacuum tube. The technology that is used for the propulsion and braking systems can vary.

The bright, young mind mentioned that the team is using a “scalability first” approach, making the design more flexible for the transportation of cargo as well as passengers. According to their “feasibility assessment”, the concept works in theory and will cost only 60 per cent of the total cost of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet train, if adopted. He said:

If hyperloop were to replace the high-speed rail that is currently being proposed… the entire infrastructure cost will be 40 per cent less, plus the maintenance costs will be much less. It will also require very little land acquisition.

Not only Bullet trains, but Hyperloop will be faster than the Maglev (Magnetic Levitation) trains as well, which themselves touch 650 km per hour and are currently operational in Japan and China.

Despite the fact that both are magnetically levitated, the reason why Hyperloop is going to have a upper hand over Maglev is that it will run inside a vacuum tube, inclining that it will avoid all air resistance and hence, will employ a different propulsion method. For the Hyperloop, passive permanent magnets are used, instead of the alternative electromagnets that require a constant electricity supply.

BITS’ Team Hyperloop India is using the material which differs from what the other 23 teams in the contest are using. Shankar says, Hyperloop India is going to use aircraft-grade aluminium, “which is four-times cheaper than carbon-fibre”. The latter is the one which the other teams are using to make their capsules.

The model will also stand out, he continues, given the capsule will be having an aerodynamic structure. He said:

Other teams are not dwelling on this, but we have kept our focus on an aerodynamic structure for the pod since at such a high speed of 1,200 km/hour, although there’s a very little air to be displaced, aerodynamic drag can become a powerful factor.

The team comprises of three members, two of which are student — Shankar and Shibhesh, who are workinh under Professor M.S. Das Gupta of BITS Pilani. This is the only team representing India and the second representing Asia, which will be going to California to present their model.

Back in 2015, in in response to the SpaceX design contest for which the firm built a one-mile (1.6 km) track on its premises and invited teams from all over the world to design hyperloop vehicles that could travel on the track, the tech-minds came together and rose as a team.

With 3 from India, a total of 216 teams coming in from all around the planet, Team Hyperloop India is now standing among the 24 finalists.

Now being supported and mentored by organisations like Invest India, RITES, NITI Aayog and Indian Railways, the team has already collaborated with IIMs, IITs and the Indian School of Business on the feasibility of the project.

Tech-savvy Public Transport modes could soon be a Reality in India

With India trying to bring in efficient modes of public transport, NITI Aayog nodded to the development of Hyperloop, Metrino, Stadler Buses, Pod Taxis, Hybrid Buses and Freight Rail Road.

With India trying to bring in efficient modes of public transport, NITI Aayog has given its nod to the development of six tech-savvy modes of transportation namely Hyperloop, Metrino, Stadler Buses, Pod Taxis, Hybrid Buses and Freight Rail Road, a report said.

A six-member committee, headed by a former top official of the Railways, will look into the safety measures of these public transport systems. Sources told the Economic Times it will only be commercially launched once pilot tests prove to be satisfactory.

Officials said this can alter ‘the way of intercity travel in the country.’ New options are being explored so that the country resolves the growing traffic issue.

Here’s a look at how tech-savvy the upcoming public transport systems will be – 

Metrino 

These are driverless cars which are similar to pod taxis. The safety measures for metrino has been successfully tested, which means that there are possibilities of it being available to people by the end of this year. Officials also said metrinos are cost-effective as well.

Pod taxis

Pod taxis will be cable cars carrying a small group of 4-6 passengers. By the end of this month or by the beginning of August, pod taxis will be operational in Gurgaon. The Urban Development Ministry has claimed that since the pod taxi is part of the mass rapid transit system, it cannot be executed without the ministry’s clearances. But because the city falls under NH-8, the ministry has said it is the NHAI’s responsibility. According to earlier reports, six states will implement pod taxis.

Hyperloop

Although hyperloop will take some time according to the officials, all the authorities associated with this development have given it a thumbs up. Hyperloop has successfully completed its first full system test in the United States and as soon as the global tech companies churn out safety measures, it is likely to come to India.

Hyperloop will connect cities. They are likely to be 30-metre-long pod-like vehicles which will be able to accommodate 40 passengers. Hyperloops are likely to travel at the speed of 1223 km per hour.

Stadler Buses

Stadler is a Swiss-rail company which is setting up manufacturing units in India. The company is well-known for building energy efficient rail coaches and locomotive manufacturing products. Hence, their buses would also cater energy-efficient and cost-effective buses

Freight Rail Road

Freight rail road will have elevated corridors. These will be built with rail lines and will also accommodate freight trucks and will move at high speed, reducing freight time and increasing freight quantity. The Indian Railways are considering to connect with countries for trade, Iran and Turkey,  via freight rail service. This development can help in transcontinental trade and serve to be cost-effective as well.

Hybrid buses

Hybrid buses are a combination of combustion and electric buses. These buses are being manufactured and Tata Motors has already launched two electric buses in India. They expect to manufacture at least 400 buses within a year. Hybrid buses are already functioning in London, Beijing, among other cities.

Railway Board ask RVNL to carry out the Feasibility Study for 2 more Bullet Train corridors

NEW DELHI: Following Rail Vikash Nigam Limited’s submission of the final feasibility report of a bullet train in the Delhi-Kolkata corridor, the Railway Board has now entrusted it with the feasibility study of two more alignments from Kolkata.

The Kolkata-Mumbai (1,968km) and Kolkata-Chennai (2,182km) corridors will be part of the high-speed railway network called Diamond Quadrilateral.

In fact, the Mumbai-Nagpur alignment will be the first phase of the proposed Mumbai-Kolkata corridor. The feasibility study is being done under government-to-government cooperation with Spain by Adif-Ineco.

Similarly, the feasibility study for Kolkata-Chennai corridor is to be decided by the ministry of railways. According to officials, this is quite similar to the Golden Quadrilateral highway project of the NDA government under Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

At present, the travel time by train from Kolkata to Mumbai varies from 26 to 40 hours. Duranta takes 26 hours to reach Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus while Jnaneswari Express takes 30 hours to reach Lomanyatilak Terminus (Kurla). The high-speed bullet train can reduce the travel time to less than 10 hours, said a Railways official.

However, the biggest challenges to these projects are land acquisition and capital investment. Like in Bengal, acquiring land will be a major issue all along these corridors. Land requirement for these is, however, smaller compared to a six-lane highway. A wide double-line high-speed corridor requires land that is 15-m wide while a six-lane high-speed road requires land that is 35-m wide. But a high-speed railway corridor allows more passengers per hour, said an RVNL officer.

High-speed railway (HSR) involves high capital cost and high demand risk due to higher tariff as compared to conventional rail. This is why the tracks will be dedicated and mostly elevated. The emphasis will be on alternative revenue sources like real estate, carbon credits and cross-subsidy from road/air travellers.

But there is hardly any alternative to high-speed rail. A double-track train is equivalent to a three-lane motorway. Twelve trains per hour per direction can only be replaced by 4,000 cars per hour per direction. While HSR can carry 14,400 passengers per hour, a motorway can carry only 8,000 passengers per hour. So, HSR facilitates decongestion to a great extent, explained Railways officials.

Each HSR corridor will have a long gestation period and will be highly capital intensive. The project will require seamless coordination among central government ministries, government agencies and state governments, as well as strategic thinking.

Apple to collaborate with Indian Railways to increase train speeds over 600 km per hour

NEW DELHI: Eyeing trains speeds of 600 km per hour, the government is working with global technology firms like Apple to help take Indian railways to the next level, Union minister Suresh Prabhu said on Friday. Speaking at a conference attendended by senior rail officials, Prabhu said that as part of modernisation and maintenance of railways, the ministry has lauched several initiatives over the past three years like RailCloud Server and Rail Saarthi App and is working on a enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution.

The railway minister also said the government’s premier think tank NITI Aayog had approved the ministry’s Rs.18,000 crore proposal to increase speeds of the Gatiman Express on the two busiest corridors, Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Kolkata.

With this approval, the speed of the Gatiman Express would increase to 200 km per hour, the minister said at an event organised by industry chamber ASSOCHAM.

“You can yourself imagine how much travelling time this will save.” Sharing plans for the future, Prabhu said the government had six-eight months ago called major technology developers working on increasing train speeds to more than 600 km per hour.

“We are already working with companies like Apple… technology will not only be imported in India but will be co- developed in India,” Prabhu said.

Safety was also an important concern and Indian railways was planning to use self-propelled coaches that can detect rail fractures through ultrasonic technology, the minister added.

Ensuring cyber security in day to day operations is one of the priorities for railways which is moving in a big way towards technology driven operations, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said today.

“We are working on a complete transformation of the railways through investment of huge amounts of money and transformation of each and every aspect of operations to make them better. We are using high-end technology for maintenance and detecting defects in tracks through one application,” said Prabhu

“So if we are doing all this and using the cyber space for digital transactions, obviously, the vulnerability of that transaction becomes very critical.

“When we do everything manually, the challenge is manual error and if we are shifting from manual to technology oriented operations, then the flaws in technology or someone who can potentially hoodwink it is as high and sometimes even dangerous. So cyber security is one of the top priorities,” the minister added.

The meet on ensuring cyber security in Indian Railways, attended by Chairman, Railway Board, A K Mittal and other railway board members and senior officials, saw discussions on cyber threats, security incidents and advanced solutions.

Computerisation in railways started about three decades ago and major activities like ticketing, freight operations, train operations and asset management now rely heavily on IT systems.

Railways launched RailCloud this month, a virtual server with an inbuilt security system that will enable faster connectivity at a reduced cost.

RailCloud technology enables maximising the usage of available server and storage resulting in accommodation of bigger data and more applications within same server space.

Till now all IT applications had separate servers which increased the cost of operations and purchases.

Cyber Security has now been identified as the focus area by the railways. Auditing of IT Systems by Standardisation Testing and Quality Certification (STQC) and close coordination with Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) are some of the steps taken by Indian railways.

Bullet train journey between Delhi-Varanasi to take just 2 hours and 37 minutes between two cities!

Come 2031, a bullet train may well zip from Delhi to Varanasi (presently PM Modi’s constituency) in less than 3 hours! The very same high-speed train will help you complete a journey between Delhi to Lucknow within 2 hours.

VARANASI: Indian Railways, in its move to reduce the train journey time on the Golden Quadrilateral, has asked for various high-speed rail feasibility studies to be undertaken. The draft final report of one such study for the Delhi-Kolkata stretch is ready and proposes that with a bullet train, people will be able to travel between Delhi-Varanasi in 2 hours and 37 minutes, and between Delhi-Lucknow in 1 hour and 38 minutes. That’s a distance of 720 km and 440 km respectively! The Delhi-Kolkata high-speed corridor will cover a distance of 1474.5 km.

Talking about the study, Anil Saxena the Spokesperson of Indian Railways said, “This study is being done by three Messrs – Spain’s INECO, TYPSA and ICT. Right now the draft final report has been submitted to Railways. Various divisions will now study and give their inputs, which in turn will be incorporated by these firms in their final report.” “The final report will be submitted to the Railway Board in 2 months time and after that, a decision on the project will be taken,” he added.

According to the report details shared by Indian Railways, the entire project will cost around Rs 1.21 lakh crore, with the Delhi-Varanasi stretch estimated to be at Rs 52,680 crore. The report states that if the project were to commence in 2021, then the Delhi to Varanasi stretch should be ready in ten years time. The Delhi to Lucknow high-speed train corridor should be complete in 8 years time, that is by 2029, says the report. A station for the train is proposed near the Akshardham Temple in Delhi. Some of the stops of the train would include Greater Noida, Aligarh and Jaunpur. A maximum operational speed of 300 km/hr has been considered, with a commercial speed of 250 km/hr.

How much would a train ticket cost? The report assumes a base fare of Rs 4.5 per kilometre. This would mean that for travelling between Delhi to Varanasi you will have to shell out at least Rs 3,240 (720*4.5) and for Delhi to Lucknow the minimum fare would work out to be Rs 1,980 (440*4.5).

High-Speed Rail Corporation is the nodal agency for these feasibility studies. Delhi-Mumbai and Mumbai-Chennai bullet train corridors are also under the High-Speed Rail Corporation. Feasibility studies are also being undertaken for the Delhi-Chandigarh and Delhi-Amritsar corridors. The construction for Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project – India’s first bullet train project – will start in September this year and is expected to be ready by 2023. Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has said that the cost of travelling in a bullet train will be less than air fares. Meanwhile, Indian Railways is also working on Mission Raftaar to double the average speeds of freights trains and increase the average speed of superfast mail/express trains by 25 km/hr in the next 5 years.

Germany to conduct Feasibility Study on Chennai-Bengaluru-Mysuru rail route

NEW DELHI: Known for its expertise in the high-speed rail sector, Germany will conduct a feasibility study for running trains at a speed of about 300 kmph on the 450-km-long Chennai-Bengaluru-Mysuru route.

Germany has appointed a consortium of consultants comprising DB E&C, Intraplan Consult and Ingenieurbng to carry out the study in the southern region.
Year-long study

Germany will bear the cost of the year-long study involving exact location, ridership, opportunities, and challenges among other issues and submit the report.

A pre-feasibility study of this section was completed by the German side in 2016 and now they are keen to do a feasibility study, said a senior Railway Ministry official involved with the high-speed rail project.

India had signed a joint declaration of intent in October 2015 on the development of cooperation in rail sector between German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure and the Indian Railways during the visit of the German Chancellor to India.

The German side had indicated willingness for a feasibility study on high-speed rail (HSR) in India in the joint declaration.

Protocol inked

During the visit of Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu to Germany in April 2016, a protocol was signed with German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure to intensify cooperation in rail sector. One of the areas mentioned in the protocol is high-speed rail.

It was decided during the bilateral meeting that Germany will conduct the feasibility study for high-speed rail of Chennai- Bengaluru-Mysuru section with their finances.

Ministerial visit

The German Federal Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure Alexander Dobrindt visited India last October. He and Prabhu agreed to work expeditiously on the feasibility study for HSR of Chennai-Bengaluru-Mysuru route, the official said.

In order to carry out the study, workshops have been organised by consultants at Chennai and Bengaluru this month to interact with zonal authorities and to understand regional requirements.

As part of the study, a workshop is scheduled to be organised tomorrow where consultants will interact with officials of the Railway Ministry.

High speed train corridor to ensure non-stop net connectivity

Rail passengers can soon enjoy uninterrupted Internet connectivity with the Railways all set to equip main trunk routes with high speed mobile communication system.

This will also help in real-time monitoring of assets besides ensuring direct communication between gangmen and loco pilots and station masters on condition of tracks. Considered as one of the areas essential for transforming rail operation, the state-run transporter will be setting up the high speed mobile communication corridor at an estimated cost of Rs 5,000 crore through PPP model.

Currently, the Railways has been using wireless systems for operational applications. It has deployed GSM-R networks on select routes for operational voice communications between train drivers and train controllers.

“Now we are planning to migrate to LTE-R (Long Term Evolution-Railways) technology from GSM-R (Global System for Mobile Communication-Railways), for creating high speed train communication corridor,” said a senior official of the signal and telecom wing of the Railway Ministry.

The high speed mobile corridor aims to support various safety, train operation and train management systems apart from offering broadband service to passengers.

Today, passengers expect uninterrupted Internet connectivity while travelling by train or at stations. The system shall fulfil all these needs of passengers by setting up dedicated broadband network along the railway tracks, said the official. The high speed mobile communication system would enable the public transporter to have next generation mobile train radio communication between control office and crew of the trains for safe train operations.

It would also improve travel comfort of passengers by providing real-time multimedia information and access to social networks in stations or on the go.

It is expected that once implemented, the corridor will not only help in real-time monitoring of the assets, its maintenance and management, but will also help the Railways to provide next generation mobile train radio communication between control office and crew of the trains for safe train operations.

The Railways has implemented mobile train radio communication system on 2,541 route km and further works on 3,408 route km are in progress. Besides monitoring assets, it would provide a better passenger comfort and journey experience such as onboard Internet access, video on demand or other entertainment.

Japan pushes for Bengaluru-Chennai high-speed rail

Japan has reiterated its keenness to take up the high-speed train project between Bengaluru and Chennai.

Japan’s Ambassador to India Kenji Hiramatsu, who met Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Saturday, stated that Japan was keen to expand the high-speed rail network in India.

Hiramatsu was in Bengaluru to participate in the launch of the Green Line of Namma Metro. The ambassador discussed the progress and implementation of several projects in Bengaluru taken up utilising funds from financial institutions in Japan.

Japan uses the Shinkansen bullet train technology which is proposed to be utilised for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed train.

Railways considers high-speed Talgo train to cut Mumbai-Ahmedabad travel time

MUMBAI: Travel time to Ahmedabad may get reduced to five hours even before the bullet train project takes off, as Spanish firm Talgo has offered to operate on the route. The railway board has formed a committee to evaluate the proposal.

The hi-speed trains from Spain can achieve faster acceleration and deceleration, besides running faster on curves. Its coaches are lighter and can hence reach destinations faster than conventional Indian Railway coaches.

At a maximum speed of 130kmph, Shatabdi Express is the fastest on the route, and it takes six hours and 20 minutes to traverse 493km. Talgo trains can run at a maximum speed of 200kmph without any major change to track infrastructure.

Source said Talgo has offered to run the trains on lease at fares equivalent to Shatabdi. Talgo said it has offered four trains on lease that can run on shorter Mumbai-Ahmedabad and Delhi-Amritsar routes.

The board had thought of introducing this services on the Mumbai-New Delhi Rajdhani Express route. A series of trials were carried out before which the board conceded that the train was fit to run on Indian Railways.

Source said, “The Mumbai-New Delhi Rajdhani Express route is 1,384km. If we run trains for this distance, maintenance facilities will have to be created at both places. If we run shorter distance, the facility will have to be in only one city.”

Shatabdi Express departs from Mumbai Central at 6.25am and arrives in Ahmedabad at 12.45pm. On its return journey, it departs at 2.40pm and arrives at 9.20pm.

Nine state-of-the-art coaches manufactured by the Spanish firm had arrived in Mumbai in April 2016 and completed their trials in September.

Mumbai-Ahmedabad distance | 493km

Fastest train between the two cities | Shatabdi Express
Travel time | 6 hours, 20 minutes

Shatabdi Express

AC chair cars | 15
AC executive class | 2
Carrying capacity | 78 per coach
Maximum speed | 130kmph
Average speed | 78kmph
Fare Rs1,920: AC executive class; Rs 1,005: CC

Talgo

It can cover the distance in 5 hours
Maximum speed | 200kmph
Average speed | 105kmph

BULLET TRAIN

Mumbai-Ahmedabad distance | 508km
Max speed | 350kmph
Travel time | 2 hours
Fare | 1.5 times AC fare

Route | BKC, Thane, Virar, Boisar, Vapi, Surat, Bharuch, Vadodara, Anand, Ahmedabad (11 stations, 9 intermediate halts)

India’s Highspeed Rail project: A chance to replicate the success of the Auto industry

The HSR project creates a unique opportunity in India to replicate the success of Maruti, in the rail sector.

Transfer of Technology (ToT) and Make in India are important pillars of the Indo-Japanese agreement on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed train (HSR) project. However, these concepts pose as much of a challenge as the projects themselves. Issues like ToT in what areas, to whom and how need to be addressed.

To address which areas ToT will take place in, a detailed analysis of the components needs to be undertaken by Indian industries and entities involved. This analysis should aim to capture first, the long-term capabilities of Indian industry to supply quality critical components for the project both during the construction and operations and management (O&M) phases and second, be conducted with the objective to reduce O&M costs through the adoption of universal specifications and enhanced localisation.

To address issues related to whom ToT will involve and how complicated this might be, it is worthwhile to see how other countries have handled similar situations. China successfully expanded its HSR network by opening its market to foreign players who created large-scale joint ventures with local Chinese enterprise. The government encouraged the absorption of technology through state-sponsored companies. It initiated an excellent engineer development programme to promote HSR education. Lastly, it merged local rolling stock and rail equipment businesses to make them more competitive.

The aircraft industry in Brazil and the automotive industry in South Africa grew with substantial government support. In both cases, apart from tax incentives, the government facilitated building physical capacity, human resources and technological capabilities by establishing collaborations with foreign partners. Growth was also supported by the close interaction of industry and government research or academic institutions.

In India, the pharmaceutical sector grew as the government encouraged private drug companies to undertake collaborative research through government-owned institutions. Many successful joint ventures (JVs) were also formed in the Indian automobile sector. These JVs, with international collaboration, became a preferred route for technology acquisition. In the 1980s, the Government of India set up Maruti Udyog Ltd, a JV with Japanese car maker Suzuki having 74 per cent equity. The company achieved 65 per cent indigenisation of car components by 1991. Over four decades, the initial joint venture led the automobile revolution in the country.

JVs in manufacturing require substantial support from both government and industry associations to facilitate business-to-business interaction between Japanese and Indian industry. The capabilities of Indian industry will have to be assessed in terms of their willingness to partner Japanese counterparts and upgrading their processes to suit Japanese manufacturing companies.

Considering that the high-speed project will be a technological jump for India, a suitable mechanism needs to be firmed up which can absorb the technology and expand the capabilities of Indian industry and human resources. It will be worthwhile to create a new JV for the initial rolling stock production, between a key Japanese manufacturer and a Government of India entity. A commitment by the government to a HSR rolling stock JV will minimise risks for a foreign manufacturer, enable effective technology absorption and enhance the technological capabilities of the Indian Railways.

Technology absorption will also require large-scale skill upgradation. As part of the high-speed train project, a high-speed training centre is already proposed. While the training centre will provide required skills to Indian employees, there is a need to undertake an engineering development programme in Indian technical institutes. The growth of information technology companies is supported by a number of qualified IT engineers. A similar expansion of HSR will not be possible without skilled engineers.

The HSR project creates a unique opportunity in India to replicate the success of Maruti, in the rail sector.

High Speed Rail project to be completed by 2023: Masafumi Shukuri of IHRA

Masafumi Shukuri, Chairman, International High-speed Rail Association (IHRA)

In an interview, Masafumi Shukuri, Chairman of IHRA spoke about the opportunities of investing in India and what needs to be done to ensure that we continue to see a large flow of capital coming in to the country.

He said that the Government of India led by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu have made some major policy decisions in order to expedite the High Speed Rail project in India.

Masafumi says the renewed energy in relations between India and Japan has opened the way for more opportunities for economic cooperation, especially in infrastructure.

The ability of high speed railways to generate economic benefits and transform society and as ‘a game changer’, IHRA Chairman Masafumi Shukuri said that it had the potential to transform India. He pointed to the Tokaido Shinkansen, now in operation for 52 years, suggesting that there was still a need to leverage the transformational impacts.

The use of an ‘exceedingly innovative’ financing model for the proposed 500 km Mumbai – Ahmedabad project supports suggestions that work could begin in 2018 with opening in 2023; and 81% of the cost would be funded under a 50-year loan at 0·1% interest with a 15-year moratorium. He confirmed that land acquisition was already in progress and that technical details were being resolved.

He also emphasizes that Indian Railways also looks at what other impact the high speed rail was able to bring in Japan. Apart from just records or achievements, it has impacted the Japanese economy and society. It brought decisive change in the lifestyle of the people of Japan. So it isn’t just transportation, but it is transformation for the nation.

He also said that people, human resources and software are extremely important factors in the operation of high speed rail. We are in a position to fully assist India in this sphere.

Personally speaking, I believe the Indian economy will further expand on a steady basis and will become even greater, he said; adding that Japan needs to work more on overseas markets and exert its strength in order to succeed and expand economically and, Indian market is thus extremely important for Japan.

In terms of investment and economic relationships, there has always been great potential between the two nations but perhaps, Japanese efforts have not been sufficient. I believe that, going into the future, the relationship between Japan and India should be wider and deeper. I am certain there will be more and more Japanese companies who will be taking such initiatives.

About Masafumu Shukuri: Mr.Shukuri is the Chairman of IHRA. Joined Transport Ministry(Present : Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism)in 1974. From 1984, he went to a new post to the Japanese Embassy in Indonesia as a first secretary. After then, he held minister of Transport Secretary, Counselor of Cabinet Legislation Bureau, Director General of Road Transport Bureau, Director General of Policy Bureau, Deputy Vice Minister, Vice-Minister for Transport, Tourism and International Affairs. In 2011, he held Vice Minister of Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, and retired in 2012. Mr.Shukuri is presently the Visiting Professor of Tokyo University.

Achal Khare appointed Managing Director of High Speed Rail Corporation

NEW DELHI: Achal Khare was today appointed as the Managing Director (MD) of National High Speed Rail Corporation. The Appointments Committee of Cabinet has approved his appointment to the post for a period of five years, an order issued by Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) said. The corporation has been formed for development and implementation of high speed rail projects in India. Khare is at present Adviser (Infra) in Railway Board.

Over 500 railwaymen to be trained abroad on high-speed rail

Railways has undertaken a massive exercise of imparting training to over 500 railwaymen on high- speed rail technology in China and Japan, ahead of running trains at speed ranging from 160 to 200 kmph in select corridors in the country.

Railways has firmed up plans for running trains at higher speed of 160 kmph in the busy trunk routes of Delhi-Howrah and Delhi-Mumbai section to reduce travel time between these metropoles.

Besides, the public transporter has asked SNCF, the French railways, to explore possibilities of running trains at 200 kmph on the Delhi-Chandigarh route.

“There is a need for imparting training on high-speed rail technology to our officials before the introduction of the service here,” a senior Railway Ministry official involved in Mission Raftaar said.

Railways has launched Mission Raftaar, a programme to increase speed of trains in all busy routes to reduce journey time between cities.

There will be about 550 railway officials from directorates concerned, including traffic and electrical, who will be trained in China and Japan as arrangements for such training has been put in place, the official said.

While the first batch of 40 railway officials are being trained in high-speed rail technology at Chengdu in China, 20 officers have already been trained in Japan and 38 more are undergoing the training programme there.

The training programme in China is for two weeks and in Japan the study course is for 20 days.

They will learn the functioning of high-speed train service and its maintenance operations as part of their training module, the official said.

Railways is forging ahead to ensure 160 kmph speed on Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Kolkata routes and the contract for strengthening of the track, upgrading of signalling system and fencing off vulnerable sections along the route are to be awarded.

While the Delhi-Howrah route is used by about 120 passenger trains and around 100 goods trains every day, some 90 passenger services and an equal number of freight trains run on Delhi-Mumbai corridor daily.

Once these two major routes are upgraded to the speed of 160 kmph, there will be a scope for launching more passenger trains in these sectors. This will reduce the waiting list of passengers in some of the popular trains as many more such services with similar facilities will be on offer.

Not in India’s best interest to bar China in Rail sector: Chinese Media

India has serious concerns on China’s continued stand on Pakistan sponsored terrorism in Indian soil and it’s reluctance in banning Pak sponsored terrorists at UN. China have to sensitize itself on the importance of safeguarding neighbour’s interests in combating terrorism. China’s wrong stand on terrorism is definitely not an encouraging factor in India.

BEIJING: It is not in India’s best interest to bar China from entering into partnership on high-speed train projects, a Chinese daily said on Tuesday.

An editorial in Global Times said India should not have protectionist tendencies as it will hinder economic growth in the country when it wants to bring in high-speed trains.

India may have awarded its first bullet train project to Japan but New Delhi should take a “sober” look at China when it comes to solutions for either railway network revamp or the country’s forthcoming high-speed rail project, Chinese official media said today.

“India actually needs China more than China needs India in the arena of steel rail manufacturing and train technology,” it said.

“Admittedly, India has stayed vigilant against China and has chosen Japan as a partner for the country’s first high-speed railway project, which is expected to commence in 2018.

“However, this doesn’t mean it is in India’s best interest to bar China from entering into partnerships on other bullet train projects.”

The daily advised India to a have a “sober look” at China if it wanted to revamp its rail network or bring high-speed trains.

“India’s effort to revamp its rail network, the fourth-largest in the world, is apparently suffering from supply-side malaise, as its state-owned railway company purportedly eyes private supplies to make up for production shortfalls,” the editorial said.

“China has in recent years ramped up efforts to export its high-speed rail technology worldwide, earning the economy a new name card.

“Plans to open up rail purchases to the country’s private suppliers will decidedly help in overcoming the rail supply shortfalls and will create a level playing field for its private sector.

“It would also be sensible for the Indian government to consider giving up on its protectionist mentality that is often seen in the use of trade remedies on steel imports from China.”

It said India was protectionist as it imposed anti-dumping duties on certain Chinese steel products for six months last year.

“The application of trade remedies, as such, certainly builds a shield to protect India’s domestic manufacturers, but in the meanwhile the measures also serve to inhibit the nation’s rail network from being revamped in an efficient and reliable fashion.”

The 508-km Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed corridor, which is the first bullet train project in India, slated to be operational by the end of 2023, aims to reduce travel time from the current nine hours to three hours between the two major metropolis.

Estimated to cost about Rs 97,636 crore, 81 per cent of the funding for this project will come by way of a soft loan from Japan.

“With the Belt and Road (silk road) initiative set to reshape global trade, it is anticipated that countries and regions along the route will benefit considerably from China’s exports of its train technology which has been well received in terms of both pricing and quality,” the article said. “It’s thus advised that New Delhi take a sober look at its giant north-eastern neighbour when it comes to solutions for either India’s rail network revamp or the nation’s forthcoming high-speed rails,” it said.

China which has made a serious bid for India’s high speed train projects is conducting feasibility study for New Delhi-Chennai bullet train corridor.

The article said China has in recent years ramped up efforts to export its high-speed rail technology worldwide, earning the economy a new name card.

But China is keen to get Indian high speed train projects as Beijing hopes it would pave the way for it get orders from the rest of the world.

China has built more than 20,000 km of high-speed rail lines. According to the government’s plan it will be increased to 45,000 km by 2030.

The article also criticised India to for taking “protectionist stance” by slapping anti-dumping duties on certain Chinese steel products for six months.

“The application of trade remedies, as such, certainly builds a shield to protect India’s domestic manufacturers, but in the meanwhile the measures also serve to inhibit the nation’s rail network from being revamped in an efficient and reliable fashion,” it said.

In the last two years India has worked out a number of cooperative agreements with China for the development of railways.

Indian Railway engineers are getting trained in China in heavy hauling, China is also cooperating with India to set up a railway university similar to the one it developed.

Besides the high-speed train, India and China have agreed to cooperate to identify the technical inputs required to increase speed on the existing railway line from Chennai to Mysore via Bangalore.

India emerging as latest potential market for pods-in-a-vacuum-tube idea

Hyperloop rivals vie for chance to build the high-speed rail system in India. Hyperloop is a superfast surface transportation system that could attain speeds as high as 760 miles-an-hour (1,216 kmph) and Bangalore has already emerged as an R&D Hub for Global Hyperloop market!

BANGALORE: India has become a must-have market for two startups each looking to build its version of the Hyperloop, a superfast surface transportation system that could attain speeds as high as 760 miles-an-hour (1,216 kmph).

The system was proposed by entrepreneur Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX and Tesla, over three years ago, and two ventures, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies and Hyperloop One are vying to be the first to actually build one.

The Hyperloop system involves moving pods that levitate inside sealed tubes at near vacuum and both the startups already have initial agreements to start working on the feasibility of building them in the United Arab Emirates — between Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the case of Hyperloop One, and between Abu Dhabi and Al Ain for Hyperloop Transportation Technologies.

One proposal for such a system in India is from Mumbai to Pune, and Hyperloop Transporation’s Chairman Bibop Gresta asserts India could make it a reality in 38 months, if the government makes up its mind. That would reduce the travel time between the two cities to a matter of minutes, from the three-odd hours it takes today by road. Bibop also asserts that the Hyperloop Transportation System will also be successful on the Chennai-Kolkata-Guwahati, Chennai-Bangalore, Chennai-Tiruvananthapuram, Chennai-Secunderabad-Mumbai, Mumbai-Ahmedabad-Jaipur, New Delhi-Lucknow-Patna-Kolkata routes.

Railways examining Manglev Transport Method: says MOSR in Parliament

NEW DELHI: Indian Railways (IR) have floated an Expression of Interest (EoI) for designing, building, commissioning, operation, running and maintenance of levitation based train system on Public Private Partnership (PPP) basis. The salient features of the levitation based transportation system are as under:-

It is planned to be built on either elevated columns or underground.

Very high speeds can be achieved in such a ground based transport system.

The Specially designed vehicle carrying passengers / goods shall float above track or ground magnets by using principle of magnet attraction / repulsion.

Riding comfort of such vehicles is expected to be very good.

The levitation based trains shall be powered by electricity.

IR is aware that the current infrastructure cannot be utilized for levitation based transport system. IR’s initial thrust is on setting up a technology demonstration system of limited length to begin with. Thereafter it is planned to jointly develop and build a cost-effective solution of such a technology in collaboration with the chosen technology partner / partners. The responses of various Firms received against the Expression of Interest (EoI) are being studied/examined from various aspects which includes electrical requirement for the levitation based train system also.

The project is envisaged to be implemented on PPP basis.

This Press Release is based on the information given by the Minister of State for Railways Shri Rajen Gohain in a written reply to a question in Lok Sabha on 22.03.2017 (Wednesday).

Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail Corridor will be Elevated Project of Indian Railways

It was decided to construct Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed rail project as a fully elevated corridor to enhance safety and reduce land requirement for the project.

According to preliminary assessment of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), fully elevated corridor entails an additional cost implication of approximately ₹ 10,000 crore.

General Consultant has been appointed by JICA in December 2016 to prepare Design documents, bidding documents and technical standards & specifications for the project considering the corridor as fully elevated.

This Press Release is based on the information given by the Minister of State for Railways Shri Rajen Gohain in a written reply to a question in Lok Sabha on 15.03.2017 (Wednesday).

Railway Minister says Centre in talks with 6 Global Companies for Highspeed Trains

Railway Ministry to rope in companies to launch highspeed trains. However, it may be a decade before these trains become a reality, he says.

CHENNAI: Discussions by the Railway Ministry with top six global companies for the launch of very high-speed trains in India that can travel at a speed of 600kms per hour are in the advanced stage, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said on Saturday.

“We called for six top global companies who have technology that can travel beyond the 350km/hour speed. These trains can travel upto 600kms/hr speed. We called them and we told them that we will develop with you”, he told reporters on the sidelines of a conference here.

“Six companies have come forward and the talks are in advanced stages”. If they could manufacture such high speed trains, the county would also be able to export it, he said.

Prabhu was here to take part in the Tamil Nadu Business Leaders Conference organised by CII.

To a query on the timeframe for the launch of such high trains, Prabhu said “it may happen in 10 years. These are new areas which we are working on”.

On the launch speed trains, he said “Japanese companies are investing almost Rs 1 lakh crore into high speed railways.”

On the investments taken up by his Ministry, he said, “including the Rs 8.50 lakh crore proposed to be invested, we are investing an additional amount of Rs 85,000 crore for dedicated freight corridor project. We expect that to be completed in 2019. In the last two years, contracts has been issued, tenders have been finalised”, he said.

On developing the railway network in the country, he said, the Ministry has undertaken a vision plan for Railways 2030.

“For the first time we are preparing a strategic plan to invest and decide on how railway network should be developed.”, he said.

Earlier, Prabhu unveiled a series of initiatives at the Railway Station here including launch of fifth and sixth track line between Moore Market Complex-Basin Bridge junction, dedication of free wi-fi service at Chennai Egmore Station, double discharge platform at Mambalam Railway Station, and also an elevated booking office at Kodambakkam railway station.

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies plans to set up R&D Lab in Bengaluru

HTT to bring the next generation of transport in India for super-fast transportation system by 2021, says Rob Lloyd, CEO & Board Member of Hyperloop One
Rob Lloyd, CEO, Hyperloop One

BENGALURU: An overseas technology firm, working on a new mode of passenger and freight transportation at airline speeds at a cheap price, plans to set up a research and development centre in Bengaluru.

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT), established by California-based JumpStarter based on the technology envisioned by Tesla founder Elon Musk, is already in talks with the Ministry of Transport for land to test the technology.

Hyperloop is a concept that uses a pod-like vehicle travelling through near-vacuum that’s contained within a tube. It can be used for high-speed passenger and freight transportation.

California-based Hyperloop One, which is developing the concept, plans to deploy the transport solution on the Kolkata-Chennai freight route, to begin with.

Rob Lloyd, CEO & Board Member of Hyperloop One, talks about the company’s plan to harness the potential of the world’s densely populated geography through the technology. Excerpts:

How soon can Hyperloop get going?

We are leaving here with the plan to get going. We work on project ideas and get the answers for questions that have been asked, like how much investment, when etc.

We are prepared to make an investment in the next phase of development. We need right-of-way for the project to get going. As India is one of the most densely populated countries, we have to look at different ways to make Hyperloop a reality.

We have earmarked the freight-oriented route from Kolkata to Chennai for the project. We are looking at where the transportation quarters can be built.

When can India get its first Hyperloop?

Our objective is to have the first Hyperloop in production by 2021. It would be perhaps on the major junctions on the Kolkata-Chennai route.

What makes you feel so confident that the timing for such a technology is ripe in India? How sustainable is the technology?

One of the barriers to attracting manufacturing jobs to this country is logistics and infrastructure, which are not at the level that most companies need for transportation of goods.

So, if you really want to build a manufacturing set-up here, there is a need to upgrade infrastructure. The reason it is perfect for India is because there is a vision to increase the manufacturing base in this country.

We will look to partner with a country who wants the first-mover advantage for this technology and the launch of our company is an invitation to India for taking the first-mover advantage. Other countries are competing to be first-movers as we speak.

How do you anticipate the response, especially keeping in mind the price-sensitive Indian customer?

If we participate with Indian engineering and development early on, that would help us to make this a very inclusive mode of transportation for everyone.

The cost of a Hyperloop ticket would be comparable to the cost of a train or a bus ticket and not an air ticket. Train tickets are very inexpensive in India. Therefore, the cost cannot be compared. But it is the model that we follow world over.

Have you faced any bureaucratic hurdles?

We have just started. We have had very encouraging meetings. I am not naïve. I am aware of the complexities of government decision making in India. We are here with both our eyes wide open. What will work is top-down support.

How involved is Elon Musk with the Hyperloop project?

Elon Musk is the originator of the idea; he created an open source model to encourage minds to explore this. He is not involved with our company.

He is not an investor but he is a cheerleader of the fact that Hyperloop can become a reality.

Support from Indian government

Hyperloop One was founded in 2014 and today its has 225 employees. announced a global challenge last year where it invited teams to pitch in their ideas to deploy Hyperloop in their region of interest. Out of the 2,300 applicants, 35 teams were finalised out of which 5 Indian teams were present at today’s event in New Delhi. The final teams will get support from Hyperloop One to actually make their vision a reality.

The company has also got support from the Indian government as the minister of railways, Suresh Prabhu and CEO of Niti Aayog, Amitabh Kant were present at the event and said that they are excited by the concept. “We are committed to Hyperloop and open to help out in any way possible,” said Amitabh Kant at the event.

In a one on one interaction, the CEO Rob Lloyd told us that in a short time of just 2 years, the company has grown to over 200 employees and how this is a small step towards a bigger opportunity.

“The response that we got from India has been excellent and we are very excited to work with more people to make Hyperloop a reality. The concept of Skill India and Make in India will be highly considered and we would like to provide opportunities in the future.”

He also said that there is a proposal where Hyperloop One will establish factories and R&D centres in the country for efficient deployment.

The financial and environmental costs

Hyperloop is considered to be quite efficient, apart from being super fast, it will take up less space and will be financially sound as it will run completely on electricity. Of course the cost required to construct and operate will mostly depend on the route and application. Research claims that it would be 60 percent that of high-speed rail and would be less expensive to operate. It will also be on-demand which means that unlike trains that follow a schedule, a Hyperloop pod could be deployed whenever the passengers require with departures as quick as every 20 seconds. Just like the metro has various stations in a city, a Hyperloop network will have cities and towns as one station.

It would consumer less energy as there is no need of constructing tracks, and it uses minimal electrical energy to power the system. Upon asking about a possibility of utilisation of solar energy, the CEO said that it is definitely under consideration.

Positive impact on the job market

So how will this help? Apart from reducing travel times to as much as 10 times, Hyperloop would help in creating and improving job opportunities. Frequent business travellers could save time and improve productivity. Transport of goods that take 14 days could be reduced to just 14 hours. Hyperloop One is also considering to make the pods in India and sees a scope of software development once the project is underway.

The event also showcased five Hyperloop One Global Challenge semi-finalist teams from India, each of which proposed high-speed transportation routes in India. The teams had to develop regional proposals integrating the transport technology to move passengers and freight from point-to-point smoothly. The Hyperloop One Global Challenge which was announced back in May 2016 inviting teams across the world to put forward viable transport plans covering economical and policy aspects of their respective regions and countries. Out of 2,600 registrants from 90 countries, Hyperloop One has come down to 35 semi-finalists with India leading the way with the highest number of registrants and the most vocal supporters on social media.

The finalists from India include:

  • AECOM – Bengaluru-to-Chennai: 334 km in 20 minutes. Meeting the demand of a passenger and freight super-corridor growing at 15 percent a year.
  • LUX Hyperloop Network – Bengaluru-to-Thiruvananthapuram: 736 km in 41 minutes. Connects two major ports in southern India with population centres of Coimbatore and Kochi.
  • Dinclix GroundWorks – Delhi-to-Mumbai via Jaipur and Indore: 1,317 km in 55 minutes. Freight and passengers. Connects two megacities and creates seaport access for landlocked intermediary cities in the interior.
  • Hyperloop India – Mumbai-to-Chennai via Bengaluru: 1,102 km. 50 minutes. Phased development for freight and passengers. Boosts capacity at ports of Mumbai and Chennai, creates a Suez Canal-like link between India’s coasts.
  • Infi-Alpha – Bengaluru to Chennai: 334 km in 20 minutes. Meeting the demand of a passenger and freight super-corridor growing at 15 percent a year. Connects with major airports.

HTT Chairman and Co-Founder Bibop G Gresta told that there is an immediate requirement to de-humanise the transportation sector. “Bengaluru is one of the places on the planet where we can see a huge number of talent and thriving startup ecosystems. I would like to establish an R&D centre in Bengaluru and I am also looking for investors,” he said.

He pointed out that India has an amazing opportunity in the transportation sector because of three factors — density of population, scarcity of infrastructure and a growing demand for transportation. “Even though the government has decided to invest huge money on high-speed rail and traditional railways, I believe the money spent will not give enough returns,” he said. Gresta had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to Silicon Valley and expressed his wish to join hands.

“I have already submitted a proposal to Minister for Road Transport Nitin Gadkari for land and (I’m) ready to do the rest once I get permission. I assure you that HTT can transport people from Pune to Bengaluru in half an hour,” he said.

HTT is the largest company ever built upon a collaborative business ecosystem and coordinates with a team of over 600 professionals from 40 countries. It plans to come up with a new form of transport based on the principle of sending a vehicle at high-speed through an evacuated tube.

To encourage startups, he said HTT plans to launch Hyperloop Innovation Lab and Hyper Loop Academy in India. “We will launch a programme called Hyperloop Academy for India soon. People can submit their ideas and they can work with our engineers,” he said.

He said the company has right now 25 engineers working on the HTT project. “Lots of requests are coming from India. It is our crowd-sourcing initiative to our mothership project Hyperloop,” he said.

When asked about JumpStart Fund, Gresta said it has identified a few companies in the area of tube manufacturing, material design and engineering. “We have identified half a dozen startups and will reveal their names soon,” he said.

Work to introduce Semi-highspeed Trains on two routes to begin soon

The Railways has finalised the detailed project report (DPR) for an ambitious semi-high speed rail project aiming at running trains at 160 kmh on two busy corridors.

NEW DELHI: Indian Railways will soon start sub-projects aimed at introducing semi-high speed trains on the Delhi-Howrah and Delhi-Mumbai routes, a senior ministry official said on Tuesday. The Railways has finalised the detailed project report (DPR) for an ambitious project aiming at running trains at 160 kmh on two busy corridors.

New Delhi-Howrah and New Delhi-Mumbai corridors would be upgraded to run trains at speed of 160 kmph as part of ‘Mission Raftaar’ launched by railways. “The two sub-projects under ‘Mission Raftaar’ are expected to be completed in three years with a total outlay of Rs 18,163 crore,” the official said. After the upgrade, trains on the routes will run at a speed of 160 km per hour.

The ‘Mission Raftaar’ project of the Indian Railways envisages to raise the average speed of both passenger and freight trains. The mission is being spearheaded by a cross disciplinary mobility directorate in the Railway Board. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said a Detailed Project Report of the routes is being prepared.

The Delhi-Howrah section will be upgraded at a cost of Rs 6,974 crore, and the Delhi-Mumbai section at an estimated Rs 11,189 crore. The official said the work involved replacing locomotives-hauled trains with Main line Electric Multiple Units and Diesel Electric Multiple Units trains.

The work includes civil, electrical and signal and telecom for upgrading the track for high speed use. The work also involves an arduous task of fencing off the Delhi-Howrah and Delhi-Mumbai routes. Fencing off the entire route is crucial for running trains at 160 kms an hour which can be later raised to 200 kms per hour, a senior Railway Ministry official said. According to Railways, it would be a paradigm shift for rail network development and besides upgradation, fencing is essential for preventing trespassing and cattle movement to ensure high speed and safety and it will find prominent mention in the budget papers.

While the rate of return for Delhi-Howrah route is 18 per cent, it is 14.7 per cent for Delhi-Mumbai. The Delhi-Mumbai section will cover Baroda-Ahmedabad route and Delhi-Howrah sector will also include Kanpur-Lucknow corridor in the project. The two major trunk routes have been taken up in the first phase and later on Howrah-Chennai and Mumbai-Chennai sectors will also be taken up.

Talgo Train sets could be commercially operational by mid-2018: Subrat Nath, Director, India & APAC, Talgo

In a telephonic interaction with media, Subrat Nath, Director, India and Asia-Pacific, Talgo said that if everything went according to plan, the rake could be in commercial operation by the middle of next year.
Subrat Nath, Director, India and Asia-Pacific, Talgo

MUMBAI: Spanish train manufacturer Talgo is in talks with the Railway Ministry to lease its trains for some short-distance routes, preferably under 500 kilometres, on a profit-sharing basis. In a telephonic interaction, Subrat Nath, Director, India and Asia-Pacific, Talgo said that if everything went according to plan, the rake could be in commercially operational by the middle of next year.

Hypothetically speaking, Nath said, if the Railway Ministry accepts a proposal to have Talgo trains on lease by March 31 this year, then the rakes could come in by April 2018 and after a trials of a few months, it could be ready for commercial operation by August 2018.

“A three-member team of the Railway Board consisting of additional members is looking into the feasibility of deploying Talgo trains on the Indian Railway network. Only after they submit the report can things move forward.

There are two options, first of which is a global tender where there will be several more participants. That could take time. The other is the leasing model that we have suggested where our rakes can be leased over some routes on the Indian Railways on a profit-sharing basis. But as I said all the financial details can be made only after the three-member team submits their report,” Nath said.

The current plan, according to him, is to provide just Talgo coaches to the Railways because the Spanish firm during the trials found the quality of Indian locomotives very good. “What we want to do is to provide Talgo coaches to the railways on lease and use locomotives from the railways to haul the train.

The locomotives in the railways’ fleet are very powerful, capable of high speeds. That is why we believe the best value for the railways would be to have Talgo coaches hauled at higher speeds by Indian locomotives,” said Nath.

Nath said that in case the Talgo is chosen by the railways, it will have to further undergo a full set of trials supervised by the RDSO (Research Design Standards Organisation – the apex technical authority of Indian Railways headquartered at Lucknow) and also have to get the approval of the Commissioner of Railway Safety.

Drilling of 7 Km Mumbai-Ahmedabad Undersea Route begins to ascertain Soil Condition of Bullet Train path

Soil and Rock testing time for India’s first undersea Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train corridor path. Railways opted for an elevated corridor to avoid land acquisitions and the need to build underpasses.

MUMBAI: Drilling of the seven-km undersea route of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad rail corridor is underway to ascertain soil condition of India’s first bullet train path. Passengers will get the thrill of riding under the sea, a first in the country, near Thane at a maximum speed of 350 km per hour in the upcoming high speed train project connecting two major metropolis.

“Soil and rocks below the 70-metre-deep see are being tested as part of the geo-technical and geo-physical investigation undertaken for the entire project,” said a senior Railway Ministry official, adding “the test will also cover the 21-km-long underground tunnel between Thane and Virar.” Barring the 21-km-long tunnel, most part of the 508-km- long corridor is proposed to be on the elevated track while there will be a stretch after Thane creek towards Virar which will go under the sea as per the detailed project report by JICA, the funding agency of the project.

Railways opted for an elevated corridor to avoid land acquisitions and the need to build underpasses. The tunnel was necessitated to protect the thick vegetation in that area, said the official. The geo-investigation is crucial for the project as it would ascertain the bearing capacity of the soil below 70 feet at the sea.

Estimated to cost about Rs 97,636 crore, 81 per cent of the funding for the project will come by way of a loan from Japan. The project cost includes possible cost escalation, interest during construction and import duties.

The survey is likely to be followed by the final location survey to mark the alignment and exact spots for the pillars on which trains will run at higher speed to reduce the travelling time between Mumbai and Ahmedabad drastically.

Currently it takes about seven hours to travel between the two cities and the bullet train aims to reduce it to about two hours.

Construction of the corridor is expected to start in 2018 and is estimated to be completed by 2023.

JICA agreed to fund 81 per cent of the total project cost through a 50-year loan at an interest rate of 0.1 per cent and a moratorium on repayments up to 15 years.

NITI Aayog reviews progress of Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train project

NEW DELHI: The NITI Aayog has reviewed progress of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail project for which the ground breaking ceremony will take place during the visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe later this year.

The meeting chaired by NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Arvind Panagariya, was also attended by 20-member Japanese delegation last week, decided to expedite preliminary work and obtain environmental clearances. This was 4th high level meeting on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail Project.

“The review of the project was taken. Idea is that to put pressure on ground to implement it as soon as possible. We are making satisfactory progress,” said a NITI Aayog official who attended the meeting.

The ground breaking ceremony, he said, would be held at the time of visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe some time later this year.

“A general consultant from Japan has started working on the project since December 2016… Next step would be to do Environment Impact Assessment (EIA),” the official said.

He further said that ground construction for the project will commence by the end of 2018 and the train service is likely to be operational from 2023.

The high speed railway line between the two prominent cities in Western India is expected to cover 508 km in about two hours, running at a maximum speed of 350 kmph and operating speed of 320 kmph.

Estimated to cost about Rs 97,636 crore, 81 per cent of the funding for the project will come by way of a loan from Japan.

While most part of the corridor is proposed to be on the elevated track, there will be a stretch after Thane creek towards Virar which will go under the sea as per the detailed project report by JICA.

French help for running Delhi-Chandigarh trains at 220 Kmph

NEW DELHI: If things go according to plan, trains on the Delhi-Chandigarh route may run at a top speed of 220 km per hour.

French Railways has come forward to assist its Indian counterpart in upgrading the track between Delhi-Chandigarh to facilitate running of trains at a maximum speed of 220 km per hour.

French National Railways (SNCF), which has carried out a technical study to upgrade the speed of passenger trains on the 245-km-long existing rail corridor between Delhi and Chandigarh, today presented its report to Railway Ministry offering possibilities of track upgrade for running trains at higher speed.

According to the report, SNCF has suggested higher speed ranging between 160 km and 220 km per hour for Shatabdi trains in the Delhi-Chandigarh corridor to reduce travel time between the two cities.

“The French team has offered three options to us. First is to upgrade the track for running trains at 160 km per hour speed at an estimated cost of Rs 17 crore per km,” said a senior Railway Ministry involved in the high speed rail project.

The second option is to run trains at 180 km per hour speed and the third is for a speed of 220 km per hour.

While it would cost Railways about Rs 27 crore per km for upgrading the track for 180 km speed, the cost will go up to Rs 46 crore per km for strengthening the track for 220 km per hour speed.

The report has suggested the possibilities of running as many as 12 Shatabdi trains between Delhi and Chandigarh by 2030 by taking the ridership and future growth into account, said the official.

Currently, there are only three Shatabdi trains between two cities.

French Railways will offer its expertise on upgrading the track, signalling system and rolling stock to run trains at higher speed, as per the MoU signed between Railways and SNCF on December 9, 2015 for technical cooperation in the rail sector.

What the Budget has done for Railways – a Review by Subrat Nath, Director/India & APAC Region at Talgo

Recent derailments had brought the vulnerability of the national carrier into the limelight. For the railways, the fund allotment of Rs 1 lakh crore towards safety, is a welcome move, says Subrat Nath

NEW DELHI: The 2017-18 Union Budget has been a game-changing one in many ways. From introducing visionary measures to promote Digital India to discarding a separate Railway Budget, the government has proposed a balanced Budget.

Recent derailments had brought the vulnerability of the national carrier into the limelight. For the railways, the fund allotment of Rs 1 lakh crore towards safety, is a welcome move.

Better safety can be ensured with improved tracks, better rolling stock, better signalling, lesser level-crossings, fencing where required and world-class maintenance of tracks.

This would lead to safer and faster movement, would fuel efficiency and productivity.

The government is paving the way for semi-high speed trains across the network. Progressive moves like these will ensure that India gets to the global standard in terms of competence, efficiency and financial management in development.

The railways has been struggling with funding and financial prudence for a long time. Strategic measures with innovative financing models to improve rail speeds, upgrade rail infrastructure with increasing track capacity, improve passenger comfort and innovations in technology will help accelerate the modernisation of the sector.

All commuters have three basic demands when it comes to travelling by trains: Cleanliness, safety and timely arrival. Slow speeds make train travelling unattractive; many would rather choose roads or buy affordable tickets for economy class air travel. The Budget has laid out big investments in infrastructure by claiming to invest up to Rs 3,96,135 crore during the next financial year.

The government in this Budget has acknowledged the need to give impetus to speed up the movement of goods, making freight less expensive and positioning the railways as an attractive option over steady competition from road transport.

The focus of Indian Railways is now slowly turning towards raising passengers’ comfort level as well. Introduction of measures such as ‘Raksha Coach’, ‘Coach Mitra’ and environment-friendly disposal of solid waste will help restore the much lacking efficiency and public confidence in the railways.

The Budget has also clearly been designed in order to guide the country towards sustainable development by boosting infrastructure as well as generating employment opportunities.

Better transport means better mobility, more manufacturing and generation of employment. In the times of international uncertainties, this Budget is a booster for the Indian economy .We will see the positive impact of this Budget very soon.

Talgo trains to hit tracks on Lease basis

Indian Railways planning to operate Talgo trains on lease

NEW DELHI: Indian Railways is working on a lease agreement to operate the light-weight, energy efficient Spanish Talgo trains on short routes such as Delhi-Amritsar, Delhi-Lucknow, Bengaluru-Chennai or Mumbai-Ahmedabad on a profit-sharing basis.

While finance minister Arun Jaitley is expected to announce the plan in his upcoming budget speech, the specifics are likely to be formalised by February-end, when Talgo CEO Jose Maria Oriol visits India, sources said.

The Talgo plan fits in with the NDA government’s intent to ramp up average speeds of Mail and Express trains from the existing 65 kmph to 100 kmph.

Talgo trains have articulated bogies, light-weight shells with all aluminium coaches and a design that allows natural tilting of coaches, enabling it to negotiate curves at high speed.

While Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains are able to achieve a top speed of 160 kmph, their average speed is much lower on account of their heavier wheel and axle load. Talgo coaches weigh 17 tonnes against the 51 tonnes of conventional Indian coaches. The load per passenger is estimated to be approximately four times lesser in a Talgo.

Talgo being the world’s only company manufacturing such coaches, it is difficult for the Indian Railways to go in for a formal contract, but “a lease agreement could work”, an official said.

In a three-phased trial conducted last year, Talgo trains clocked a top speed of 180 kmph on the Mathura-Palwal route and covered the Delhi-Mumbai distance in 11 hours 48 minutes.

“It has now been proven that the Indian Railways can use the Talgo trains to reduce transit time by 25% without investing on infrastructure,” said Subrata Nath, company director for India and Asia Pacific.

Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train to get on track by 2023

According to a final feasibility report submitted by a Japanese governmental agency, India’s first bullet train corridor will set the taxpayers back by a hefty INR 1 lakhs crore.

Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has submitted its final feasibility report on Mumbai-Ahmadabad bullet train corridor. The report estimates the value of the 505 km long high speed railway project to be INR 98,805 crore. With the bullet train capable of speeds of over 300 kmph, the train journey time between the two western cities of India will be cut short from over 7 hours to about 2 hours. It’s also reported that the suggested train fair is higher than the first class AC ticket on Rajdhani express. Rough estimate puts its price at around INR 2,800.

The JICA delegation, led by Japanese Ambassador to India Takeshi Yagi, submitted the report to Indian Railway minister Suresh Babu. The railway ministry will examine the report and decide the future course of action. The report also says that if construction work commences in 2017, India’s first ever bullet train will be ready to ply in 2023-24. The ministry is expected to prepare a Cabinet Note outlining project feasibility and timelines to seek approval.

It is estimated that by 2023, around 40,000 passengers will be ready to adopt bullet train journey and hence its a financially viable project. It’s to be noted that apart from JICA, SNCF of France has also submitted its feasibility study and business model to the Indian government.

Recently, Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has finally consented to allocating land at the Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) for the first terminus of the new Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train that is set to go into operation from 2023. This is a dream project of the PM Narendra Modi which will cover the 508 km distance between Mumbai and Ahmedabad in a matter of 2 hours. The Bullet Train is expected to travel at operating speed of 320 kmph and at a peak speed of 350 kmph.

For the first time, passengers aboard the Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train will travel under the sea with a 21 km tunnel between Thane and Virar being planned while the project is set to be completed by 2023. The total cost of the Bullet Train is estimated at INR 99,000 crores with Maharashtra and Gujarat governments contributing 25% each while the Central Government will put in the remaining 50%. The Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train will stop at 12 stations across the route, of which 4 stations are in Maharashtra while 8 are in Gujarat.

Japanese International Corporation Agency has prepared a detailed project report for the Bullet Train. Rolling stock and all necessary equipment required for the construction besides signaling equipment and power system will be imported into the country from Japan. A training center is also to be set up at Gandhinagar to offer training facilities to engineers and employees who will be involved in the construction of the Bullet Train.

Gujarat Govt. signs INR 77000 Crore MoU with Railways for Bullet Train

Ahmedabad: Gujarat Government today signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) worth INR 77,000 crore with the Ministry of Railways for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet train project.

The MoU was signed during the ongoing Vibrant Gujarat Summit at Mahatma Mandir here today in the presence of Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel.

Out of the total cost of INR 1.10 lakh crore for the high-speed Bullet train project, Gujarat government would get 70% share, the state government said in a release.

The agreement was signed between Gujarat government and the High Speed Rail Corporation (HSRC), which falls under the Railway Ministry.

Rupani said that “Under this agreement, INR 77,000 crore will be invested in Gujarat for the Bullet train project. We have signed an MoU today in this regard with the Ministry of Railways.” The Railways will also set up a container depot in Rajkot to boost exports from the Saurashtra region. “This will cost about Rs. 100 crore,” Rupani said.

The high speed Bullet train is expected to cover 508 kilometer (km) between Mumbai and Ahmedabad in about two hours, running at a maximum speed of 350 kmph and operating speed of 320 kmph. The project is expected to be completed by the 2023.

According to the detailed project report proposed by Japanese International Corporation Agency (JICA), while most part of the corridor is proposed to be on the elevated track, there will be a stretch after Thane creek towards Virar, which will run under the sea.

Rolling stock and other equipment like signalling and power system will be imported from Japan as per the loan agreement.

Railways has already allotted INR 200 crore for the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), in which Maharashtra and Gujarat will have equity of 25% each and the Indian Railways will have 50%.

The release said that “Another MoU was signed to set up a training centre at Gandhinagar to impart training to engineers and employees associated with the Bullet train project.”

JICA inks CG pact with IR for Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail project

Bullet Train Project Moves Ahead. JICA promotes smooth implementation of the Mumbai- Ahmedabad High Speed Railway Project by signing the Memorandum for General Consultancy, the funding agency said in a statement.

New Delhi: Japanese funding agency JICA has inked a tripartite consultancy pact with Railway Ministry and National High Speed Rail Corporation for the high-speed railway project between Mumbai and Ahmedabad.

JICA promotes smooth implementation of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Railway Project by signing the Memorandum for General Consultancy, the funding agency said in a statement.

“The GC is to provide design and bidding assistance for the public works and systems required for the construction of a high-speed railway linking two cities Mumbai and Ahmedabad in India, which was agreed to at the Japan-India Summit Meeting held in December 2015,” JICA said in a statement.

JICA will bear the cost of GC up to 2020 and will contribute to the smooth implementation of the High Speed Railway Project, it said.

The National High Speed Rail Corporation Ltd (NHSRC), a new agency, in charge of the implementation of the project is a joint-venture between Japan International Consultants for Transportation Co (JIC), Nippon Koei Co and Oriental Consultants Global Co. Ltd.

The joint-venture is tasked to implement the General Consultancy of the project.

JICA said the signing of the pact confirms methodology of the GC work by the three parties under the agreement.

The MoU marks an important step toward actual project implementation and the GC work has been fully mobilised and moving forward following the contract signing between JICA and the joint-venture on December 9, JICA said further.

The high speed railway line between the two prominent cities in Western India is expected to cover 508 km in about two hours, running at a maximum speed of 350 kmph and operating speed of 320 kmph.

Estimated to cost about Rs 97,636 crore, 81 per cent of the funding for the project will come by way of a loan from Japan.

While most part of the corridor is proposed to be on the elevated track, there will be a stretch after Thane creek towards Virar which will go under the sea as per the detailed project report by JICA.

JICA also declared its interest in funding Surat Metro Rail Project in India during the discussions.

Russian Delegation hold discussions on Secunderabad-Nagpur Semi-High Speed Rail Corridor

Delegation from Russian Railways holds Discussion with SCR Officials on Up-gradation of Secunderabad-Nagpur Corridor for Semi-High Speed Rail Services

Secunderabad: A 12-member delegation of experts from the Russian Railways held preliminary discussions with senior officers of the South Central Railway (SCR) led by Additional General Manager A.K. Gupta on the feasibility and implementation of the Semi-High Speed Rail Corridor between Secunderabad and Nagpur.

The discussions on Wednesday with the objective of conceptualisation of the project will be continued on Thursday ahead of a two-day field study when the visitors will be accompanied by SCR personnel from Secunderabad division too.

Currently, trains to New Delhi take between nine and a half hours to 10 and a half hours to cover the distance of 587 km on the sector. While the Telangana Express leaves here at 6.25 a.m. and reaches Nagpur at 3.40 p.m. the same day, the overnight Dakshin Express leaves here at 10.30 p.m. and reaches Nagpur at 9.05 a.m. the next day. These superfast trains now run at 120 kilometres an hour and once the track strengthening is done, they can touch speeds of about 200 km an hour, an SCR officer said. The visiting delegation was led by the Head of Russian Railways Office in India Vladimir A. Finov and apart from Mr. Gupta, Divisional Manager-Secunderabad Ashesh Agrawal was present.

Discussions

A press release described the discussions were those carrying forward a Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Ministry of Railways in India and the Joint Stock Company ‘Russian Railways’ on technical co-operation in Railway sector last year and later the signing of a protocol in October, 2016 between the two entities on ‘Semi-High Speed Rail’.

Discussions were said to revolve around an analysis of the Secunderabad-Ballarshah section of the corridor that lies on SCR’s network. The Russian delegation sought to know the technicalities of the section and the Additional General Manager briefed them on the salient aspects of the line and highlighted the average traffic flow of passenger carrying and goods trains in the section.

The extensive dialogue included issues like the various components of rail infrastructure – civil engineering involving bridges, tracks and maintenance technology, signalling, rolling stock pertaining to locomotives, coaches and power for the like.

Indian Railways moves ahead on Maglev Trains project

Indian Railways aims to implement the first stretch of the Maglev project in less than three years’ time. Swiss Maglev pioneer, BHEL in talks for Indian journey

maglev-trainsetNew Delhi: Moving ahead with the introduction of the high-speed Maglev (magnetic levitation) trains in the country, the Indian Railways has asked Rail India Technical and Economic Service (RITES) to prepare a detailed project report within the next six months. The railways aims to implement the first stretch of the project in less than three years’ time.

“We would be very closely associated with RITES as they would collect all the required data after which we would together do the analysis of the sufficiently high clientele sectors where Maglev can be implemented,” said Nitin Chowdhary, Executive Director, Mechanical Engineering (Development), Ministry of Railways.

Maglev trains which run at a minimum speed of 350 km per hour (kmph) and maximum 500kmph without touching the ground are based on the magnetic levitation technology wherein the train is elevated 1 to 6 inches above the ground through a system of magnets thereby making the train move frictionless at high speeds.

The project would be implemented on a PPP (public-private partnership) basis as a joint venture between the railways and a private company wherein the railways would contribute 26% of the equity.

“Two private companies can also form a JV within themselves but the resultant JV would have to in turn work with us in a joint venture by sharing the technology for the project and not be our competition instead,” explained Chowdhary.

According to Chowdhary, the objective is to have a core incubator group with a mandate to develop Maglevs in India. The group will brainstorm with the industry as well as the railways. The close knit group will also oversee the development of the Evacuated Tube Transport (ETT) for freight which would run along the Maglev trains.

Refuting the notion that Maglev would be too expensive a project to generate positive returns, Chowdhary said, “Developing Maglevs won’t be as expensive as people are thinking it to be since we have spoken to a lot of vendors about it and it seems doable.”

He added that for people the priority has shifted towards saving time and if Maglev can provide that with high-end quality service, then passengers will be willing to spend a higher fare amount.

In September this year, six companies, including Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd and Switzerland-based SwissRapide AG, had evinced interest in developing Maglevs in India. The railways had invited expressions of interest for Maglev trains in July this year. One of the world’s foremost maglev firms – the Zurich-based SwissRapide and the country’s leading electrical systems major Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) are in talks to work jointly on urban rail projects based on magnetic levitation (maglev).

Maglev is a transport system in which trains glide above a track, supported by magnetic repulsion and propelled by a linear motor, and move at speeds of upto 500 kilometres per hour. Aida Von Schulman, Managing Director (Business Development) of SwissRapide said, “We are now in the process of establishing a partnership with BHEL, within the intent to approach the Ministry of Railways to start the feasibility study for an airport to city centre link project in Kolkata, Chennai or Hyderabad.”

Incidentally, both SwissRapide and BHEL are among the six firms that answered the Railway ministry’s call for Expressions of Interest for Maglev-based Ultra High-Speed Rail Systems in September this year.

SwissRapide is currently building the 135-km high-speed line linking Bern, Zurich and Zurich International Airport using Maglev technology, with line speeds planned at over 550 kmph. The start of commercial operations of the SwissRapide Express is planned for the end of 2017. It is also working on an ultra high-speed line between capital cities of Finland and Estonia, Helsinki and Tallinn respectively, christened FinEst Link.

BHEL is an old hand in the field of railway power systems and has built several of the country’s train motors and locomotives. According to Schulman, the calling card for the Maglev system could be reduced costs – compared to other forms of conventional high-speed rail systems, commonly called as bullet trains – in the longer run.

“Since SwissRapide Ultra-Highspeed Maglev Rail is generally twice as fast point-to-point than conventional high-speed rail, for most service levels, our Maglev rail then only requires single track construction, thus reducing the cost of Maglev up to 30 per cent lower than conventional high-speed rail. Also, since our maglev rail is twice as fast as conventional rail, only half as many trains are required, which also reduces the overall costs,” Schulman said in her email reply.

The firm plans to introduce the same kind of technology that powers the 30-km Shanghai Maglev Transrapid which has been tested to 505 kmph but uses 430 kmph as its cruising speed. It has travelled over 30 million kilometres, since its commissioning in January 2004.

About Maglev Trains

Maglev (derived from magnetic levitation) is a transport method that uses magnetic levitation to move vehicles without making contact with the ground. With Maglev, a vehicle travels along a guideway using magnets to create both lift and propulsion, thereby reducing friction by a great extent and allowing very high speeds.

Maglev trains move more smoothly and more quietly than wheeled mass transit systems. They are relatively unaffected by weather. The power needed for levitation is typically not a large percentage of its overall energy consumption; most goes to overcome drag, as with other high-speed transport. Maglev trains hold the speed record for trains.

Compared to conventional trains, differences in construction affect the economics of Maglev trains, making them much more efficient. For high-speed trains with wheels, wear and tear from friction from wheels on rails accelerates equipment wear and prevents high speeds. Conversely, Maglev systems have been much more expensive to construct, offsetting lower maintenance costs.

Germany, Japan and the U.S. started to develop Maglev transport system in the 1970s, with the aim of improving the capacity and efficiency of their public transport.

Despite decades of research and development, only three commercial Maglev transport systems are in operation, while one more is under construction. In April 2004, Shanghai’s Transrapid system began commercial operations. In March 2005, Japan began operation of its relatively low-speed HSST “Linimo” line in time for the 2005 World Expo. In its first three months, the Linimo line carried over 10 million passengers. South Korea became the world’s fourth country to succeed in commercializing Maglev technology with the Incheon Airport Maglev beginning commercial operation on February 3, 2016.

High-speed transportation patents were granted to various inventors throughout the world. Early United States patents for a linear motor propelled train were awarded to German inventor Alfred Zehden. The inventor was awarded U.S. Patent 782,312 (14 February 1905) and U.S. Patent RE12,700 (21 August 1907). In 1907, another early electromagnetic transportation system was developed by F. S. Smith. A series of German patents for magnetic levitation trains propelled by linear motors were awarded to Hermann Kemper between 1937 and 1941. An early Maglev train was described in U.S. Patent 3,158,765, “Magnetic system of transportation”, by G. R. Polgreen (25 August 1959). The first use of “Maglev” in a United States patent was in “Magnetic levitation guidance system” by Canadian Patents and Development Limited.

As for radiation caused by Maglev rails, the electro-magnetic radiation inside Maglev train carriages is subject to the same limits as radiation in underground carriages. At the same time, compared with underground railways, mid-speed Maglev trains consume less energy, cost less, and can be constructed more quickly.

Technology

In the public imagination, “Maglev” often evokes the concept of an elevated monorail track with a linear motor. Maglev systems may be monorail or dual rail and not all monorail trains are Maglevs. Some railway transport systems incorporate linear motors but use electromagnetism only for propulsion, without levitating the vehicle. Such trains have wheels and are not Maglevs. Maglev tracks, monorail or not, can also be constructed at grade (i.e. not elevated). Conversely, non-Maglev tracks, monorail or not, can be elevated too. Some Maglev trains do incorporate wheels and function like linear motor-propelled wheeled vehicles at slower speeds but “take off” and levitate at higher speeds.

The two notable types of Maglev technologies are:

  • Electromagnetic suspension (EMS), electronically controlled electromagnets in the train attract it to a magnetically conductive (usually steel) track.
  • Electrodynamic suspension (EDS) uses superconducting electromagnets or strong permanent magnets that create a magnetic field, which induces currents in nearby metallic conductors when there is relative movement, which pushes and pulls the train towards the designed levitation position on the guide way.

Another technology, which was designed, proven mathematically, peer-reviewed, and patented, but is, as of May 2015, unbuilt, is magnetodynamic suspension (MDS). It uses the attractive magnetic force of a permanent magnet array near a steel track to lift the train and hold it in place. Other technologies such as repulsive permanent magnets and superconducting magnets have seen some research.

Electromagnetic Suspension

In electromagnetic suspension (EMS) systems, the train levitates above a steel rail while electromagnets, attached to the train, are oriented toward the rail from below. The system is typically arranged on a series of C-shaped arms, with the upper portion of the arm attached to the vehicle, and the lower inside edge containing the magnets. The rail is situated inside the C, between the upper and lower edges.

Magnetic attraction varies inversely with the cube of distance, so minor changes in distance between the magnets and the rail produce greatly varying forces. These changes in force are dynamically unstable – a slight divergence from the optimum position tends to grow, requiring sophisticated feedback systems to maintain a constant distance from the track, (approximately 15 millimetres (0.59 in)).

The major advantage to suspended Maglev systems is that they work at all speeds, unlike electrodynamic systems, which only work at a minimum speed of about 30 km/h (19 mph). This eliminates the need for a separate low-speed suspension system, and can simplify track layout. On the downside, the dynamic instability demands fine track tolerances, which can offset this advantage. Eric Laithwaite was concerned that to meet required tolerances, the gap between magnets and rail would have to be increased to the point where the magnets would be unreasonably large. In practice, this problem was addressed through improved feedback systems, which support the required tolerances.

Electrodynamic Suspension (EDS)

In electrodynamic suspension (EDS), both the guideway and the train exert a magnetic field, and the train is levitated by the repulsive and attractive force between these magnetic fields. In some configurations, the train can be levitated only by repulsive force. In the early stages of Maglev development at the Miyazaki test track, a purely repulsive system was used instead of the later repulsive and attractive EDS system. The magnetic field is produced either by superconducting magnets (as in JR–Maglev) or by an array of permanent magnets (as in Inductrack). The repulsive and attractive force in the track is created by an induced magnetic field in wires or other conducting strips in the track. A major advantage of EDS Maglev systems is that they are dynamically stable – changes in distance between the track and the magnets creates strong forces to return the system to its original position. In addition, the attractive force varies in the opposite manner, providing the same adjustment effects. No active feedback control is needed.

However, at slow speeds, the current induced in these coils and the resultant magnetic flux is not large enough to levitate the train. For this reason, the train must have wheels or some other form of landing gear to support the train until it reaches take-off speed. Since a train may stop at any location, due to equipment problems for instance, the entire track must be able to support both low- and high-speed operation.

Another downside is that the EDS system naturally creates a field in the track in front and to the rear of the lift magnets, which acts against the magnets and creates magnetic drag. This is generally only a concern at low speeds (This is one of the reasons why JR abandoned a purely repulsive system and adopted the sidewall levitation system.) At higher speeds other modes of drag dominate.

The drag force can be used to the electrodynamic system’s advantage, however, as it creates a varying force in the rails that can be used as a reactionary system to drive the train, without the need for a separate reaction plate, as in most linear motor systems. Laithwaite led development of such “traverse-flux” systems at his Imperial College laboratory. Alternatively, propulsion coils on the guideway are used to exert a force on the magnets in the train and make the train move forward. The propulsion coils that exert a force on the train are effectively a linear motor: an alternating current through the coils generates a continuously varying magnetic field that moves forward along the track. The frequency of the alternating current is synchronized to match the speed of the train. The offset between the field exerted by magnets on the train and the applied field creates a force moving the train forward.

Maglev Tracks

The term “Maglev” refers not only to the vehicles, but to the railway system as well, specifically designed for magnetic levitation and propulsion. All operational implementations of Maglev technology make minimal use of wheeled train technology and are not compatible with conventional rail tracks. Because they cannot share existing infrastructure, Maglev systems must be designed as standalone systems. The SPM Maglev system is inter-operable with steel rail tracks and would permit Maglev vehicles and conventional trains to operate on the same tracks. MAN in Germany also designed a Maglev system that worked with conventional rails, but it was never fully developed.

Evaluation

Each implementation of the magnetic levitation principle for train-type travel involves advantages and disadvantages.
Technology Pros Cons
EMS (Electromagnetic suspension) Magnetic fields inside and outside the vehicle are less than EDS; proven, commercially available technology; high speeds (500 km/h (310 mph)); no wheels or secondary propulsion system needed. The separation between the vehicle and the guideway must be constantly monitored and corrected due to the unstable nature of electromagnetic attraction; to the system’s inherent instability and the required constant corrections by outside systems may induce vibration.

EDS (Electrodynamic suspension) Onboard magnets and large margin between rail and train enable highest recorded speeds (603 km/h (375 mph)) and heavy load capacity; demonstrated successful operations using high-temperature superconductors in its onboard magnets, cooled with inexpensive liquid nitrogen. Strong magnetic fields on the train would make the train unsafe for passengers with pacemakers or magnetic data storage media such as hard drives and credit cards, necessitating the use of magnetic shielding; limitations on guideway inductivity limit maximum speed; vehicle must be wheeled for travel at low speeds.

Inductrack System (Permanent Magnet Passive Suspension) Failsafe Suspension—no power required to activate magnets; Magnetic field is localized below the car; can generate enough force at low speeds (around 5 km/h (3.1 mph)) for levitation; given power failure cars stop safely; Halbach arrays of permanent magnets may prove more cost-effective than electromagnets. Requires either wheels or track segments that move for when the vehicle is stopped. Under development (as of 2008); No commercial version or full scale prototype.

The German Transrapid, Japanese HSST (Linimo), and Korean Rotem EMS maglevs levitate at a standstill, with electricity extracted from guideway using power rails for the latter two, and wirelessly for Transrapid. If guideway power is lost on the move, the Transrapid is still able to generate levitation down to 10 km/h (6.2 mph) speed, using the power from onboard batteries. This is not the case with the HSST and Rotem systems.Neither Inductrack nor the Superconducting EDS are able to levitate vehicles at a standstill, although Inductrack provides levitation at much lower speed; wheels are required for these systems. EMS systems are wheel-free.

Propulsion

EMS systems such as HSST/Linimo can provide both levitation and propulsion using an onboard linear motor. But EDS systems and some EMS systems such as Transrapid levitate but do not propel. Such systems need some other technology for propulsion. A linear motor (propulsion coils) mounted in the track is one solution. Over long distances coil costs could be prohibitive.

Stability

Earnshaw’s theorem shows that no combination of static magnets can be in a stable equilibrium.Therefore a dynamic (time varying) magnetic field is required to achieve stabilization. EMS systems rely on active electronic stabilization that constantly measures the bearing distance and adjusts the electromagnet current accordingly. EDS systems rely on changing magnetic fields to create currents, which can give passive stability.

Because Maglev vehicles essentially fly, stabilisation of pitch, roll and yaw is required. In addition to rotation, surge (forward and backward motions), sway (sideways motion) or heave (up and down motions) can be problematic.

Superconducting magnets on a train above a track made out of a permanent magnet lock the train into its lateral position. It can move linearly along the track, but not off the track. This is due to the Meissner effect and flux pinning.

Guidance system

Some systems use Null Current systems (also sometimes called Null Flux systems). These use a coil that is wound so that it enters two opposing, alternating fields, so that the average flux in the loop is zero. When the vehicle is in the straight ahead position, no current flows, but any moves off-line create flux that generates a field that naturally pushes/pulls it back into line.

Evacuated tubes

Some systems (notably the Swiss metro system) propose the use of vactrains—Maglev train technology used in evacuated (airless) tubes, which removes air drag. This has the potential to increase speed and efficiency greatly, as most of the energy for conventional Maglev trains is lost to aerodynamic drag.

One potential risk for passengers of trains operating in evacuated tubes is that they could be exposed to the risk of cabin depressurization unless tunnel safety monitoring systems can repressurize the tube in the event of a train malfunction or accident though since trains are likely to operate at or near the Earth’s surface, emergency restoration of ambient pressure should be straightforward. The RAND Corporation has depicted a vacuum tube train that could, in theory, cross the Atlantic or the USA in ~21 minutes.

Energy use

Energy for Maglev trains is used to accelerate the train. Energy may be regained when the train slows down via regenerative braking. It also levitates and stabilises the train’s movement. Most of the energy is needed to overcome “air drag”. Some energy is used for air conditioning, heating, lighting and other miscellany.

At low speeds the percentage of power used for levitation can be significant, consuming up to 15% more power than a subway or light rail service. For short distances the energy used for acceleration might be considerable.

The power used to overcome air drag increases with the cube of the velocity and hence dominates at high speed. The energy needed per unit distance increases by the square of the velocity and the time decreases linearly. For example, 2.5 times more power is needed to travel at 400 km/h than 300 km/h.

Comparison with conventional trains

Maglev transport is non-contact and electric powered. It relies less or not at all on the wheels, bearings and axles common to wheeled rail systems.

  • Speed: Maglev allows higher top speeds than conventional rail, but experimental wheel-based high-speed trains have demonstrated similar speeds.
  • Maintenance: Maglev trains currently in operation have demonstrated the need for minimal guideway maintenance. Vehicle maintenance is also minimal (based on hours of operation, rather than on speed or distance traveled). Traditional rail is subject to mechanical wear and tear that increases exponentially with speed, also increasing maintenance.
  • Weather: Maglev trains are little affected by snow, ice, severe cold, rain or high winds. However, they have not operated in the wide range of conditions that traditional friction-based rail systems have operated. Maglev vehicles accelerate and decelerate faster than mechanical systems regardless of the slickness of the guideway or the slope of the grade because they are non-contact systems.
  • Track: Maglev trains are not compatible with conventional track, and therefore require custom infrastructure for their entire route. By contrast conventional high-speed trains such as the TGV are able to run, albeit at reduced speeds, on existing rail infrastructure, thus reducing expenditure where new infrastructure would be particularly expensive (such as the final approaches to city terminals), or on extensions where traffic does not justify new infrastructure. John Harding, former chief Maglev scientist at the Federal Railroad Administration, claimed that separate Maglev infrastructure more than pays for itself with higher levels of all-weather operational availability and nominal maintenance costs. These claims have yet to be proven in an intense operational setting and does not consider the increased Maglev construction costs.
  • Efficiency: Conventional rail is probably more efficient at lower speeds. But due to the lack of physical contact between the track and the vehicle, Maglev trains experience no rolling resistance, leaving only air resistance and electromagnetic drag, potentially improving power efficiency. Some systems however such as the Central Japan Railway Company SCMaglevuse rubber tires at low speeds, reducing efficiency gains.
  • Weight: The electromagnets in many EMS and EDS designs require between 1 and 2 kilowatts per ton. The use of superconductor magnets can reduce the electromagnets’ energy consumption. A 50-ton Transrapid Maglev vehicle can lift an additional 20 tons, for a total of 70 tons, which consumes 70-140 kW. Most energy use for the TRI is for propulsion and overcoming air resistance at speeds over 100 mph.
  • Weight loading: High speed rail requires more support and construction for its concentrated wheel loading. Maglev cars are lighter and distribute weight more evenly.
  • Noise: Because the major source of noise of a Maglev train comes from displaced air rather than from wheels touching rails, Maglev trains produce less noise than a conventional train at equivalent speeds. However, the psychoacoustic profile of the Maglev may reduce this benefit: a study concluded that Maglev noise should be rated like road traffic, while conventional trains experience a 5–10 dB “bonus”, as they are found less annoying at the same loudness level.
  • Braking: Braking and overhead wire wear have caused problems for the Fastech 360 rail Shinkansen. Maglev would eliminate these issues.
  • Magnet reliability: At higher temperatures magnets may fail. New alloys and manufacturing techniques have addressed this issue.
  • Control systems: No signalling systems are needed for high-speed rail, because such systems are computer controlled. Human operators cannot react fast enough to manage high-speed trains. High speed systems require dedicated rights of way and are usually elevated. Two Maglev system microwave towers are in constant contact with trains. There is no need for train whistles or horns, either.
  • Terrain: Maglevs are able to ascend higher grades, offering more routing flexibility and reduced tunneling.[56]

Comparison with aircraft

Differences between airplane and Maglev travel:

  • Efficiency: For Maglev systems the lift-to-drag ratio can exceed that of aircraft (for example Inductrack can approach 200:1 at high speed, far higher than any aircraft). This can make Maglev more efficient per kilometer. However, at high cruising speeds, aerodynamic drag is much larger than lift-induced drag. Jets take advantage of low air density at high altitudes to significantly reduce air drag. Hence despite their lift-to-drag ratio disadvantage, they can travel more efficiently at high speeds than Maglev trains that operate at sea level.
  • Routing: While aircraft can theoretically take any route between points, commercial air routes are rigidly defined. Maglevs offer competitive journey times over distances of 800 kilometres (500 miles) or less. Additionally, Maglevs can easily serve intermediate destinations.
  • Availability: Maglevs are little affected by weather.
  • Safety: Maglevs offer a significant safety margin since maglevs do not crash into other maglevs or leave their guideways.
  • Travel time: Maglevs do not face the extended security protocols faced by air travelers nor is time consumed for taxiing, or for queuing for take-off and landing.

Economics

The Shanghai maglev demonstration line cost US$1.2 billion to build. This total includes capital costs such as right-of-way clearing, extensive pile driving, on-site guideway manufacturing, in-situ pier construction at 25 metre intervals, a maintenance facility and vehicle yard, several switches, two stations, operations and control systems, power feed system, cables and inverters, and operational training. Ridership is not a primary focus of this demonstration line, since the Longyang Road station is on the eastern outskirts of Shanghai. Once the line is extended to South Shanghai Train station and Hongqiao Airport station, which may not happen because of economic reasons, ridership was expected to cover operation and maintenance costs and generate significant net revenue.

The South Shanghai extension was expected to cost approximately US$18 million per kilometre. In 2006 the German government invested $125 million in guideway cost reduction development that produced an all-concrete modular design that is faster to build and is 30% less costly. Other new construction techniques were also developed that put Maglev at or below price parity with new high-speed rail construction.

The United States Federal Railroad Administration, in a 2005 report to Congress, estimated cost per mile of between $50m and $100m. The Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) Environmental Impact Statement estimated a pricetag at US$4.9 billion for construction, and $53 million a year for operations of its project.

The proposed Chuo Shinkansen Maglev in Japan was estimated to cost approximately US$82 billion to build, with a route requiring long tunnels. A Tokaido maglev route replacing the current Shinkansen would cost 1/10 the cost, as no new tunnel would be needed, but noise pollution issues made this infeasible.

The only low-speed Maglev (100 km/h or 62 mph) currently operational, the Japanese Linimo HSST, cost approximately US$100 million/km to build. Besides offering improved operation and maintenance costs over other transit systems, these low-speed Maglevs provide ultra-high levels of operational reliability and introduce little noise and generate zero air pollution into dense urban settings.

As more Maglev systems are deployed, experts expected construction costs to drop by employing new construction methods and from economies of scale.

Records

The highest recorded maglev speed is 603 km/h (375 mph), achieved in Japan by JR Central’s L0 superconducting Maglev on 21 April 2015, 28 km/h (17 mph) faster than the conventional TGVwheel-rail speed record. However, the operational and performance differences between these two very different technologies is far greater. The TGV record was achieved accelerating down a 72.4 km (45.0 mi) slight decline, requiring 13 minutes. It then took another 77.25 km (48.00 mi) for the TGV to stop, requiring a total distance of 149.65 km (92.99 mi) for the test. The MLX01 record, however, was achieved on the 18.4 km (11.4 mi) Yamanashi test track – 1/8 the distance. No Maglev or wheel-rail commercial operation has actually been attempted at speeds over 500 km/h.

TransPod Hyperloop could travel over 1200 Km/Hour

Where Rail & Aerospace Meet: TransPod Hyperloop could replace the 10,000 trucks that transport cargo between the two cities daily, greatly reducing greenhouse gas emissions along that route!

hyperloop-model
Hyperloop is a concept where transportation takes place in a tube. Think of a train propelled by linear induction motors in a high-pressure capsule. Theoretically, the speed of the capsule is 970 km per hour on an average, with the top speed of 1200 km per hour. So, imagine that you can travel from Mumbai to Delhi in under 90 minutes.

Since Elon Musk first proposed the idea of a Hyperloop in 2013, several attempts have been made by various developers to make it a reality. One Canadian company believes that the Hyperloop is no longer a moonshot, and they want a chance to convince the rest of the world that they’re right.

Sebastian Gendron, CEO and founder of Toronto-based startup TransPod, believes that most of the technology needed to make this revolutionary idea real is already available. “Some have been developed for the aerospace industry, some for the rail industry. So it’s really a matter of putting everything together and [building] it and [getting] it approved by agencies like Transport Canada and use it,” says Gendron in an interview with Day 6 host Brent Bambury.

TransPod’s Hyperloop could cover the 500-km (311-mile) distance between Toronto and Montreal in just 30 minutes

TransPod plans to build a Hyperloop traveling between Toronto and Montreal, covering the 500-km (311-mile) distance in just 30 minutes.  That means the Canadian Hyperloop is expected to move at 1,000 km/h (621 mph).

Zooming Past Difficulties

The Hyperloop is seen as transportation for the future, not just because it looks like it’s straight from sci-fi, but because of its energy efficiency potential. According to Gendron, 10,000 trucks transport cargo between Montreal and Toronto every day, sometimes taking up to a full day to make a one-way trip. He claims TransPod could make that same trip in just 60 minutes, greatly reducing greenhouse gas emissions along that route.

Multiply that by the vast number of busy land transport routes worldwide, and you can start to see how the advent of Hyperloops could have a huge positive impact on the environment.

Cargo is just the first step, though, as the goal is to eventually transport people quickly and safely, and Gendron is aware that the effect of fast transport on the human body should be carefully reviewed.  That’s nothing that couldn’t be taken care of with a bit more research and funding, though, which is why Gendron presented TransPod at InnoTrans, the world’s largest transportation trade show, last month.

TransPod looks to have the technology working, at least for cargo transport, no later than 2025, so now they just need to get financial backers and convince the industry (and Canada) that their Hyperloop is a great and feasible idea.

What are the chances of seeing Hyperloop Train Systems in India in the near future?

When Elon Musk talks about something, it is always a good idea to listen. More so, if he is talking about a futuristic transportation system. Musk presented a white paper on the Hyperloop technology which envisions moving people and goods at very high speeds inside tubes in capsules with the aid of linear induction motors and air compressors. Hyperloop Transportation Technology (HTT) was the first company to jump on the bandwagon and began working on a Hyperloop transportation system that would be commercially viable. The company was founded in 2014 by Jumpstarter Inc.

joel-michaelWe’re Looking At India As Our First Few Target Markets: Hyperloop Company – Joel Michael, Chief Global Operations Director – Middle East, Africa, Asia & Australia at Hyperloop Transportation Technologies Inc

HTT COO Bibop Gresta and Chief Global Operation Director of Middle East & Asia Joel Micheal are visiting India for the i5 Summit that will be held at the Indian Institute of Management, Indore. We spoke with them about Hyperloop, HTT, and India’s transportation system.

When people talk about HTT they assume that it is an Elon Musk company.

Yes, we get that a lot of times! Hyperloop Transportation Technology is a separate company. Sure, when we founded our company we went to Musk and talked about implementation possibilities and faults of the white paper he had produced. And it was a fruitful talk. He guided us on how to overcome challenges of a certain nature.

There is a lot of confusion regarding Hyperloop One And Hyperloop Transportation Technology. Your thoughts?

We are totally different from them [Hyperloop One]. We don’t want to do press events, or to have shows in the desert for demos. We are actually building a solution suggested by the Livermore Corporation years ago. We want to commercialise Hyperloop, not just present it as a science experiment.

They have been badmouthing us for a long time, claiming that they are the only Hyperloop company out there. They have great potential and this technology has a lot of space for the necessary competition. If they concentrate on solutions more, it’d be great.

How do you identify as a company?

We are a bunch of people collaborating. Rather than salaries we give stock options. And our investors are not just people who provide money. They can provide tools also. Software, hardware, test tracks, spaces anything.

Hyperloop Transportation Technology believes in collaboration. We don’t want to gloat about our investments. We want to work hard and make the world a better place.

In terms of implementation of Hyperloop, what are you doing?

We have a total of three centres where most of the research and test work is being carried out. More than 200 people are working in the US, Dubai, and in Bratislava in Slovakia.

AECOM is providing us engineering assistance to build our tracks. Our aim is to build a model of 8 km in Quay Valley, California. We are using Inductrack technology for our tracks which uses Maglev concepts.

What do you think of India and Hyperloop?

India is a very interesting country. It has a great railway network already. Hyperloop implementation would need a bit of modification but it is doable. And the technology is a perfect fit for the country as well. With a high population count, it makes more sense.

Optimum use of of Hyperloop would mean that a capsule would come to a station every 7 minutes. Each capsule has a capacity of 3,400 people. Imagine how many people a day can be transported every time.

Are you already considering implementation here?

Yes, why not. We are in talks with the Indian government, investors and other regulators. I think there is a great opportunity here. I met Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he visited Silicon Valley and the response was very positive.

Although, India needs a better infrastructure. The government needs to invest more into education and technology to improve that.

In the long run, the Hyperloop ecosystem is such that it will make a profit. So, it doesn’t need to be subsidised. Even private investors can put their money into it.

At the i5 Summit, you might make some investments. What kind of startups you are looking at?

Bibop Gresta: Right now our focus is on Hyperloop. So anyone who can provide us engineering or technical assistance will catch our eyes, be it in terms of software, mechanical, aerodynamics or even an idea that lives with the ecosystem of Hyperloop.

Joel Micheal: The i5 summit is one of the largest in India, featuring more than a 1,000 startups. We look forward to engaging with the vibrant startup community and entrepreneurial talent [so as] to have them join the movement in bringing the Hyperloop to India very soon.

Hyperloop is a costly technology to build, that will take a lot of effort. How do you think this will affect the environment?

Joel Micheal: The technology gives you back more rather than taking it. We rely on renewable energy and natural resources. Our plan is to use solar plates and wind energy. The landowner who would provide us space will gain in terms of clear roads and an ecosystem built around it.

What is the future of transportation?

Joel Micheal: Public transport will be much easier. We at HTT do a bunch of data mining to give suggestions to the government on how to improve customer experience while even earning money. We have carried out some projects in the US where if a cost of the ticket was $1, the government could earn $4-8 through ads and offers in the ticket booking app. And if the government can earn more, prices of tickets will be going down soon.

When can we see Hyperloop in action?

Joel Micheal: In February, we got our permission for our Quay Valley track. We have started the environmental study and within 30 months we will see something great taking place. I am sure that within a decade we will see many commercial Hyperloop implementations.

India’s High Speed Rail: China draws Japan towards India

In the strategic rivalry between Japan and China, high-speed rail contracts are one of the best ways to project power. And no Asian country offers more opportunities than India.

This is about a 980-billion-rupee ($15 billion) rail linking Mumbai and Ahmedabad, roughly the distance from Paris to London. Abe hopes that will make Japan the front-runner if India implements five other planned lines.

Indian Railways carries 23 million people daily on congested and aging tracks with roots dating back to British colonial rule. Sometimes, and in some terrains, trains slow to a walking pace.

Modi plans to spend 8.5 trillion rupees through 2020 on new tracks, including bullet trains and modern stations, as he looks to spur a manufacturing boom.

The project Japan is backing will see the financial capital Mumbai linked by a 508-kilometer (316-mile) high-speed track to the economic hub of Ahmedabad, the largest city in Modi’s home state of Gujarat.

Japan has agreed to provide loans to cover up to 81 percent of the cost of one of India’s biggest infrastructure endeavors

“The ‘Rail Wars’ between China and Japan are a battle for influence in the region that is way more important than just sales and profits,” said Jeff Kingston, Director of Asian studies at Temple University’s Japan campus.

“Modi would prefer to play one off the other and see what he can get for India, but geostrategically his government is leaning towards the US and Japan,” he says.

The competition between Asia’s biggest economies for high-speed rail contracts has been intense. China beat out Japan for a line in Indonesia last year, and the two are set to face off again over a proposed Singapore-Kuala Lumpur link.

A Chinese proposal to build one in Thailand fell through this year, while a Japanese-backed plan for Vietnam was rejected by the country’s national assembly. Taiwan’s Japan-sponsored line has proved to be a financial flop and had to be bailed out by the government last year.

While Japan is happy to divvy up the huge market for urban transit in increasingly traffic-choked cities across Asia, Abe wants to take the lead in high-speed rail, according to Hiroto Izumi, an adviser to the Japanese prime minister who has been negotiating the rail deal with India. He said it’s important to get a foothold in Asia’s second-most populous country to outpace China, Japan’s primary competitor.

“If Japan gets to work on the first plan, of course we have expectations” to win India’s other high-speed rail projects, Izumi said in an interview at the prime minister’s residence. “With urban railways, you can have various different plans mixed up together, but with high-speed rail, I don’t think you would have several different systems in one country.”

China, which boasts the world’s largest high-speed rail network, supports main manufacturer CRRC Corp. through financing from state-run banks and an ecosystem of railway construction firms. The nation has the ability to build train lines in areas with extreme weather and challenging geographical conditions, said Chen Suming, an analyst at Shanghai Chongyang Investment Management Co.

“CRRC is poised to win train orders if purely judged by technology, pricing and quality,” Chen said. “But there are political factors at play in overseas market which will complicate its chances of winning orders outside China.”

Japan’s sales pitch revolves around quality: its network boasts a record of zero fatal accidents in more than half-century of history. Izumi said Japan’s relatively high initial costs can be offset by lower repair expenses over a lifespan of decades. The nation’s main manufacturers are Hitachi Ltd and Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd, while Mitsubishi Electric Corp. makes electric parts for bullet trains.

Modi is set to take a Shinkansen trip on Saturday to Kobe, where the Indian leader will visit a Kawasaki Heavy rolling stock factory.

Where next?

Izumi travelled to India last month for a third round of talks on the project, focusing on technology transfer ahead of this month’s visit to Japan by Modi, who is looking to ensure a chunk of the funds go to local contractors Larsen & Toubro Ltd, Gammon India Ltd and GMR Infrastructure Ltd.

“When the start of construction on Mumbai-Ahmedabad is in sight, the question will arise about where is next,” Izumi said. “That’s a problem that has to be considered from a political perspective.”

Japan has already built up a positive reputation in India with construction of a subway system in Delhi, a success that Tokyo has touted in advertisements playing on CNN and BBC.

In India, safety and durability are more important than equalizing ties between Japan and China, according to Gaurang Shah, vice-president at Geojit BNP Paribas Financial Services Ltd in Mumbai, which offers investment advisory services to more than 840,000 clients in India and the Middle-East.

“Striking a balance is not necessary,” he said. “You should give it to the country which has credibility, technology and a past track record that is proven,” says the experts.

PM Modi, Shinzo Abe leave for Kobe aboard Shinkansen Bullet Train in Tokyo

Both prime ministers boarded the train with their respective delegations from Tokyo

Tokyo: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is meeting his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe for the annual India-Japan bilateral summit, arrived at Tokyo Station to board the Shinkansen bullet train on Saturday.

“A unique friendship on a unique train journey. PM @narendramodi and PM @AbeShinzo inside the Shinkansen bullet train to Kobe,” Swarup said in another tweet accompanied by a picture of the two leaders inside the train.

Modi, accompanied by Abe, will travel to Kobe using the bullet train. The same technology will be deployed for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Railway.

Today is the last day of the three-day summit. Modi, who arrived here on Thursday, started Friday by calling on Japanese Emperor Akihito. This is his second visit to Japan in two years.

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High Speed Rail cooperation to boost Indo-Japan Trade

Japan to Strengthen Ties with India in High-speed Railway and Nuclear Power

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that the high-speed railway cooperation between India and Japan will boost bilateral trade and investment.

Commenting on the issue, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told the media, “The high-speed railway cooperation between India and Japan is a shining example of the strength of our cooperation.”

“It will not only boost our trade and investment ties, but will also create skilled jobs in India, improve our infrastructure and give a boost to our ‘Make in India’ mission,” he added.

The Prime Minister also said that in Tokyo he would have a detailed interaction with top business leaders from India and Japan to look for ways to further strengthen trade and investment ties.

“On November 12, Prime Minister Abe and I will travel to Kobe on the famed Shinkansen – the technology that will be deployed for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed railway. “Both of us will also visit the Kawasaki Heavy Industries facility in Kobe, where the high speed railway is manufactured.” Stating thaat India-Japan partnership was characterised as a Special Strategic and Global Partnership,

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will hold a summit meeting with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in efforts to strengthen ties between the two Asian nations in security and economic areas. This is interpreted as a move to check the rise of China.

According to the Nikkei and other Japanese media outlets on November 6, Prime Minister Abe will propose a plan to build a high-speed railway in India modeled after the Shinkansen bullet train service in Japan in the upcoming meeting with Prime Minister Modi who will visit the East Asian nation on November 10-12.

Even though the Indian government decided to adopt the Shinkansen-like service in the 505-kilometer Mumbai–Ahmedabad interval, it has yet to decide on other six lines. For Japanese companies to win additional deals, the Japanese government will offer to its counterpart the building of train car assembly plants in India, as well as technology transfer and more local employment.

In addition, the Japanese Prime Minister will promise a comprehensive talent nurturing plan by which the Japanese government trains 30,000 Indian engineers for the next ten years. Under this plan, a training center will be established to train 4,000 workers to operate the high-speed railroad while Japanese companies like Toyota, Suzuki, and Daikin Industries will build local job training schools.

In the upcoming summit meeting, the two leaders will likely sign an agreement by which India can export technology and materials in relation to nuclear power plants. This is the first time for Japan to sign nuclear deals with a non-member country of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Modi will call on Japanese Emperor Akihito and review the entire spectrum of the bilateral cooperation with Prime Minister Abe in Tokyo on November 11.

This will be Modi’s second visit to Japan as Prime Minister.

Japan may bag India’s second high-speed rail contract

The agreement for the first High Speed Rail link was signed in December last year during Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to Delhi. India is contemplating awarding the second high-speed rail project in the country soon and Japan seems to be the likely contender. A discussion to this effect will be held at the upcoming Japan visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi starting on Nov 11, 2016.

New Delhi: India is exploring a proposal to award its second highspeed rail contract to Japan and the two sides would work on it during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s two-day visit to the country starting November 11.

This could be Japan’s second such project in India, just like the first high-speed rail link, which is based on the Shinkansen bullet train train technology and is proposed to connect Mumbai with Ahmedabad, indicated people familiar with the developments.

The project, proposed to connect Mumbai with Ahmedabad, is likely to be funded through a loan from Tokyo for up to 81 percent of the cost at a nominal interest rate of 0.1 percent per annum to be repaid in 50 years with a 15-year moratorium. Indian and Japanese officials are discussing the proposal, including the route for the second high-speed rail link, which is expected to be built in southern or central India. Japan is keen to expand the highspeed rail network in India and the goal fits well with the Narendra Modi-led government’s stated agenda of revolutionising the time taken for train travel in India.

Work on the link, that includes multiple tunnels and bridges, is expected to begin in December and the network is expected to be ready by 2023-24. Tariffs on this route are estimated to be lower than airfares. Apart from this project, five other rail corridors — Delhi-Mumbai, Mumbai-Chennai, Delhi-Kolkata, Delhi-Nagpur and Mumbai-Nagpur — have been identified for running high speed trains.  China is also believed to be considering participating in development of high-speed rail networks in India.

Japan, which has decades of expertise in developing and running highspeed rail networks, will be key to the government’s plan, according to people familiar with the subject. The agreement for the first link was signed in December last year during Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to Delhi. Engineering design work for the link, which includes a number of tunnels and bridges, is expected to start in December and the network is expected to be ready by 2023-24. The government has said that tariffs on this route will be less than the airfare.

Japan is providing financial assistance for the project in the form of a loan of up to 81% of the cost at a nominal interest rate of 0.1% per annum. This loan has to be repaid in 50 years with a 15-year moratorium. The Indian Railways has identified at least five other corridors — Delhi-Mumbai, Mumbai-Chennai, Delhi-Kolkata, Delhi-Nagpur and Mumbai-Nagpur — for running 300 kmph or higher speed trains. Feasibility studies are being conducted for these routes. Besides Japan, China is also in the reckoning for developing highspeed rail networks in India.

High speed train travel for short distances between nearby towns makes sense. India should negotiate a loan on extremely favourable terms with Japan for this project as well, and more so if it is tied aid. But the Railways should not waste resources on the project and add to its debt burden. The project must be open to private sector which can take risk based on an assessment of its commercial viability. The Railways’ focus should be to modernise the rail network, and not get side-tracked.

Former Board Member ‘signals’ pitfalls for running Highspeed Trains

There are 495 speed-killing curves on the tracks between the Mumbai and Delhi section, Chandrika Prasad opines!

rail-curvesMumbai: The Railways is upbeat about running high-speed trains like the Spanish Talgo and Rajdhani between Mumbai and Delhi at a speed of 160 kilometres per hour (kmph), but Chandrika Prasad, a former Railway Board member, has warned of pitfalls for running trains at high speed (160-200kmph) on the Mumbai-Delhi section. In the latest issue of a railway industry magazine, Mr Prasad has said that to run high-speed trains, signalling needs to be upgraded. There are 495 speed-killing curves on the tracks between the Mumbai and Delhi section.

Sources also said that Mr Prasad has given suggestions on upgraded signalling to the railway ministry. However, when contacted, Mr Prasad refused to comment on the issue and said, “I have highlighted it in the article. We need to upgrade on the lines of other foreign countries like US, China and European countries who had upgraded their lines before going with running high-speed trains.”

However, Mukul Jain, divisional railway manager, Western Railway, said, “The Railway board has asked to work out on signal upgradation plan for running high-speed trains at 160kmph and we are in the process of preparing the plan.”

Mr Prasad has stated in the article that while driving a train at 180-kmph, the train driver will encounter a signal for less than a minute’s interval. “In addition there are issues relating to speed limits on curves, permanent restriction and temporary speed restrictions. Imagine the tremendous strain on the driver’s mind while running his train at such high speed on the Mumbai-Delhi section.”

He points out that signalling modifications should be carried out to provide timely warning for closing of the gates and to road users. The current Indian Railways signal manual does not lay any guidelines on signalling for running high-speed trains.

Mumbai-Ahmedabad Highspeed Rail plan on high agenda; tops Modi’s Japan visit

The work on establishing the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed rail corridor is going on fast and some concrete progress on the project is likely to be announced at the time Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s upcoming visit to Japan takes place.A high speed train of over 300 kmph has already been sanctioned on the Mumbai Ahmedabad high speed corridor with financial and technical assistance from the government of Japan.

This train is based on Japanese Shinkansen high speed technology.A company for the implementation of this project with the name “National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited” has already been formed.According to Japan’s Ambassador to India Kenji Hiramatsu, they were hoping that concrete progress would be achieved in the implementation of project by the time of Mr Modi’s visit.

He said this technological cooperation for high speed was very important for his country and it was rather a win-win situation for both the countries. The implementation of this project has already begun and is now targeted for commissioning in 2023-24.

The study for this high speed train popularly referred to as Bullet Train has been done by JICA.The Japanese government is providing financial assistance in the form of loan upto 81 per cent of the project cost at a very nominal interest rate of 0.1 per cent per annum to be repaid in 50 years with a 15 year moratorium.

Talking about the Delhi-Mumbai corridor, Mr Hiramatsu said there were seven projects going on in this corridor, which would see establishment of industrial towns in which Japanese companies would be participating in areas of cargo transportation.

During the Prime Minister’s visit, Japan had committed 3.5 trillion dollar investment both public and private in India and a special mechanism has been established in the PMO to facilitate the investments.In addition to the MumbaiAhmedabad high speed corridor, five more corridors covering sides of diamond quadrilaterals and semi diagonals in the country were being explored and consultants have been appointed to undertake feasibility studies.

Rail Vikas Nigam limited/High Speed Rail Corporation of India limited has been assigned the implementation of high speed rail projects.

Mumbai-Ahmedabad is the first corridor which has been undertaken for implementation.The Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed rail project has been sanctioned at a total completion cost of Rs 97,636 crore, including construction cost of Rs 44,621 crore, which would have track, station, depot, electric, signalling and telecom.

Engineering Design work for Ahmedabad-Mumbai High Speed Rail to begin in December

high-speed-rail-stationMumbai: The engineering design work for the construction of a 500-km route for Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail which includes a number of tunnels and bridges, will start in December this year, its consulting engineers said.

The route would include a 20-km sub-sea tunnel from Mumbai to Thane, said Tomoaki Sawano, manager for planning and sales at Japan International Consultants for Transport Co Ltd (JIC) last night.

JIC has completed a feasibility study last year on the rail project which is to be operational by 2023. The project’s engineering design work will include a number of tunnels and bridges, he added.

It would take about four years to complete the engineering design for the entire route construction contracts, which would be awarded in several packages from about 2018, he said at the Singapore International Transport Congress and Exhibition being held October 19-21.

Tokyo-headquartered JIC is an international project consultant and has worked on a number of high speed rail project in India including Hyderabad-Chennai Thiruvananthapuram High Speed Rail.

Empowered Committee on Innovation Collaborations may finalise Talgo procurement

NITI Aayog’s innovation committee may decide Talgo’s fate in India

New Delhi: To acquire lightweight aluminium-bodied Talgo coaches on a ‘preferential basis’, the Ministry of Railways may approach the Empowered Committee on Innovation Collaborations. Under the rules governing the railways, it can award contracts to lease or buy only through a global tendering process. However, the Committee, a part of the National Institution for Transforming India (Niti) Aayog has been vested with the power to allow a contract to be awarded to a particular firm if it is convinced by the value it brings to the country.

The Committee was constituted in October 2015 with the aim to promote innovative collaborations for infrastructure projects. It is headed by Niti Aayog vice-chairman Arvind Panagariya, and has Shaktikanta Das, the economic affairs secretary, among others, as member.

“We can lease a couple of rakes and we plan to go to the Committee to seek permission to engage with Talgo directly,” said an official at the ministry of railways requesting anonymity.

It was earlier opined that Indian Railways may lease out coaches from Talgo initially to expedite the process of inducting Talgo coaches to run on Indian tracks.

The Committee had given the railways such preferential nod for the high-speed bullet train project between Ahmedabad and Mumbai being built on Japan’s Shinkansen technology.

“The Committee only permits to acquire a technology on a preferential basis if it is convinced. It is not an easy process. There is a formal procedure of approaching them, we will be doing that in a day or two,” said another official at the ministry of railways who also did not want to be identified.

The national carrier is also exploring to set up a rail coach factory at Palakkad to manufacture aluminium coaches on public-private-partnership basis, as reported earlier.

In a trial held in September between New Delhi and Mumbai, Spanish Talgo coaches hauled by Indian locomotives covered the distance in 11 hours 48 minutes, nearly four hours less than the time taken by Rajdhani Express.

In the earlier trials, Talgo was tested at a speed of 115km per hour (kmph) between Bareilly and Moradabad, at 130-150 kmph between Mathura and Palwal, and at 180 kmph between New Delhi and Mumbai. However, the last leg was affected due to water-logging on tracks, which delayed the train.

According to the second official quoted above, the railways is looking at multiple options to acquire Spanish coaches.

“If we have to lease, we will have to do single tender since it is in a small quantity. We are looking at multiple options right now. Either we seek technology for ourselves through open tendering wherein Talgo will be free to bid, or go ahead and select its technology (though Committee’s permission), or we go for a PPP-based tender,” the official added.

Queries emailed to the spokespersons of the ministry of railways, Niti Aayog and Spanish Talgo on 17 October remained unanswered.

The aluminium coaches are one of the options the national carrier is experimenting with in its quest for speed. Apart from a bullet train corridor being set up between Ahmedabad and Mumbai using Japan’s Shinkansen technology, the railways is also evaluating push-pull locomotives, magnetic levitation trains, among others, to increase average train speeds and decongest the network.

According to experts there are certain aspects of Talgo which makes it easier for experimentation and unique.

“Talgo comes with some unique features such as lighter coaches, the number of axles and wheels are fewer and in a way these are actually shorter coaches. The railways should first lease a set of coaches for quicker experimentation and once it stabilises then they can think of global tenders,” said transport economist G. Raghuram, who is also professor at the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad.

Germany to study Mysuru-Bengaluru-Chennai-Vijayawada High Speed Rail Corridor

Germany will begin a study of a high-speed southern corridor linking Mysuru-Bengaluru-Chennai-Vijayawada in January 2017, the Railway ministry said here on Friday.

The calendar was finalised at a meeting between Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu and visiting Transport minister of Germany Alexander Dobrindt at Rail Bhavan.

An earlier proposal had limited the corridor to Mysuru-Bengaluru-Chennai. It is now proposed to extend it to Vijayawada.

The study will be funded by the German government.

The 906-km long proposed corridor will support trains running at speeds of more than 300 km an hour. The extension of the route was made at the request of Prabhu, who also represents Andhra Pradesh in the Rajya Sabha. The earlier route was only 475 km.

The two countries had signed an MoU in April last when the Indian Railway Minister visited Germany.

“The German side also expressed willingness to undertake feasibility study on speed upgradation on existing tracks. The two sides decided to discuss further and finalise the railway corridor for this kind of study,” said the ministry.

The meeting was attended by Railway Board Chairman A K Mittal and other senior officials of German and Indian Railways.

The visiting German minister, who is on a two-day visit,  also assured cooperation in other fields, including station development and IT solutions for railway operations.

The two countries also decided to form a joint working group on safety as a “Zero Accident Mission” for Indian Railways. The working group would look into training, technology and processes for improving safety. The group would meet for inter-government consultations in Berlin in May 2017, tentatively.

CRS rakes up ‘approval’ issue after successful ‘trial runs’ of Talgo

 

talgo-trials-crs-issueNew Delhi: The Railways may have successfully conducted the Spanish-made Talgo train run trial which clocked just about 12 hours between Delhi-Mumbai route, however, it seems to have run into a controversy.

Taking cognisance of Talgo trials, Commissioner Railway Safety has sought details of the Spanish-made train and asked the Railways how the trial was conducted without its approval.

Railways had conducted trials of Talgo on Delhi-Mumbai route successfully last month by clocking about 12 hours which was 4 hours less that Rajdhani travel time.

Trial run of nine Talgo coaches hauled by Indian Railways locomotive was held on two other routes – Bareilly-Moradabad stretch in Uttar Pradesh and on the Palwal-Mathura section before Delhi-Mumbai run.

However, Railways had not sought CRS permission for the trial run of Talgo train.

“Since it was a trial run and there was no involvement of passengers in the entire operation, no permission was sought from CRS,” said a senior railway ministry official, adding, “the trial was conducted with the Railway Board’s approval”.

Railways seeks mandatory clearances from CRS before running new trains as per the standard procedure.

“We have responded to the CRS about the whole issue stating the details of trial operation,” the official said.

On whether CRS would be informed in future of such trials, he said a decision is yet to be taken on such issues.

The trial of Talgo coaches, shipped from Barcelona, was conducted with empty coaches as well as coaches filled with sand bags.

Railways aims to reduce travel time between the two metropolis by increasing train speed on the existing track.

The light-weight Spanish coaches can easily negotiate on the curves as it takes less time to accelerate and decelerate on the existing track.

Since there are a large number of high-speed rail vendors in the market, the Railways is yet to decide on whether it will float tenders or get into a public partnership model with Talgo as a way forward.

India and China to cooperate on Delhi-Nagpur High-speed rail

Cooperation between India and China to set up manufacturing and industrial capacities

New Delhi: India and China have signed two inter-governmental documents and 18 other documents for cooperation covering a host of issues, including a feasibility study on Delhi-Nagpur high speed railway, construction of Delhi-Chennai high-speed railway and establishment of China-India Technology Park in Hainan Province.

Besides, New Delhi is studying China’s coastal manufacturing zones, a move that can help India develop its 7,500-km of coastline and help the country further strengthen its export potential, particularly in labour-intensive industries such as textiles, leather, light and electronic manufacturing.

The agreements were signed by the chairman of China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), Xu Shaoshi, and the vice-chairman of its Indian counterpart National Institution for Transforming India(NITI) Aayog, Arvind Panagariya, last week.

The agreements were signed as part of India-China Strategic Economic Dialogue, which started in 2010.

“We want to study China’s experience with the coastal economic zones and port-led development in China, where the cities were granted special status to open coastal cities. They enjoy special policies. Aayog wants to analyse them,” Panagariya told reporters here.

Officials said both the sides agreed that during the course of the next one year, NITI Aayog will foster closer cooperation between Indian states and Chinese cities for establishment of mega coastal economic zones.

These zones would be areas where laws and procedures would be relaxed to help set up big manufacturing units.

Several Indian states made presentations to the 250-odd Chinese delegates laying down the facilities available there to attract Chinese investments. China’s investment into India is estimated to be less than $1 billion, which both the sides decided to scale up further.

The delegates also decided to push forward the feasibility studies for Delhi-Nagpur high-speed railway and construction of Delhi-Chennai high-speed railway. Both the projects are being executed with the assistance of the Chinese.

China’s Southwest Jiaotong University and the Ministry of Railways agreed to hold training courses in the field of high-speed railway.

India and China have also agreed to cooperate on redevelopment of stations. Bhubaneshwar in Odisha and Devanahalli near Bengaluru have been identified as being the pilots for the project.

The delegates also signed an ‘action plan’ on ‘Digital India’ and ‘Internet Plus’ between the Ministry of Electronic and Information Technology in India and NDRC of China.

Under this, both the countries would work to set up a Centre for Excellence in Internet of Things (IoT). IoT is inter-networking of physical devices, vehicles and network connectivity to collect and exchange data.

On smart cities and urbanisation, the working group constituted for the same decided to bring Chinese expertise in setting up waste-to-energy plants because of their vast experience in handling these issues.

In energy, China and India agreed to set up a power plant operation and management service centre, while Chinese investors showed interest in participation in large solar park projects.

“The Chinese businessmen have shown interest in setting up solar cell manufacturing units in India to help India realise its renewable energy goals,” Panagariya said.

The two countries also agreed to set up a steering committee to further their agenda of cooperation, which would have the powers to invite any other agency or agencies from both the countries to advise.

The next meeting of the India-China Strategic Dialogue would be held next year where all these agreements would be reviewed.

FOSTERING TIES

  • Cooperation between India and China to set up manufacturing and industrial capacities
  • New Delhi to study China’s coastal manufacturing zones, a move that can help India develop its 7,500-km coastline
  • China-India Technology Park in Hainan province to be established

India and China to cooperate on Delhi-Nagpur Highspeed rail

India and China have signed two inter-governmental documents and 18 other documents for cooperation covering a host of issues, including a feasibility study on Delhi-Nagpur high speed railway, construction of Delhi-Chennai high-speed railway and establishment of China-India Technology Park in Hainan Province.

Besides, New Delhi is studying China’s coastal manufacturing zones, a move that can help India develop its 7,500-km of coastline and help the country further strengthen its export potential, particularly in labour-intensive industries such as textiles, leather, light and electronic manufacturing.

The agreements were signed by the chairman of China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), Xu Shaoshi, and the vice-chairman of its Indian counterpart National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog, Arvind Panagariya, last week.

The agreements were signed as part of India-China Strategic Economic Dialogue, which started in 2010.

“We want to study China’s experience with the coastal economic zones and port-led development in China, where the cities were granted special status to open coastal cities. They enjoy special policies. Aayog wants to analyse them,” Panagariya told reporters here.

Officials said both the sides agreed that during the course of the next one year, NITI Aayog will foster closer cooperation between Indian states and Chinese cities for establishment of mega coastal economic zones.

These zones would be areas where laws and procedures would be relaxed to help set up big manufacturing units.

Several Indian states made presentations to the 250-odd Chinese delegates laying down the facilities available there to attract Chinese investments. China’s investment into India is estimated to be less than $1 billion, which both the sides decided to scale up further.

The delegates also decided to push forward the feasibility studies for Delhi-Nagpur high-speed railway and construction of Delhi-Chennai high-speed railway. Both the projects are being executed with the assistance of the Chinese.

China’s Southwest Jiaotong University and the Ministry of Railways agreed to hold training courses in the field of high-speed railway.

India and China have also agreed to cooperate on redevelopment of stations. Bhubaneshwar in Odisha and Devanahalli near Bengaluru have been identified as being the pilots for the project.

The delegates also signed an ‘action plan’ on ‘Digital India’ and ‘Internet Plus’ between the Ministry of Electronic and Information Technology in India and NDRC of China.

Under this, both the countries would work to set up a Centre for Excellence in Internet of Things (IoT). IoT is inter-networking of physical devices, vehicles and network connectivity to collect and exchange data.

On smart cities and urbanisation, the working group constituted for the same decided to bring Chinese expertise in setting up waste-to-energy plants because of their vast experience in handling these issues.

In energy, China and India agreed to set up a power plant operation and management service centre, while Chinese investors showed interest in participation in large solar park projects.

“The Chinese businessmen have shown interest in setting up solar cell manufacturing units in India to help India realise its renewable energy goals,” Panagariya said.

The two countries also agreed to set up a steering committee to further their agenda of cooperation, which would have the powers to invite any other agency or agencies from both the countries to advise.

The next meeting of the India-China Strategic Dialogue would be held next year where all these agreements would be reviewed.

Talgo wants IR to place Rs.3000 crore order to get to work

While trial runs of Talgo have seen it touch record speeds, several hurdles would need to be cleared if the Indian Railways is to procure the train coaches.

New Delhi: Will the arrival of high-speed Talgo trains from Spain remain a pipe dream? The Spanish firm wants the Indian Railways to place a work order to manufacture trains costing at least Rs 3,000 crore to begin production, said a source from the railways. The super-fast train has already carried out successful trials on the Mumbai-Delhi corridor.

According to sources in the railways, Talgo has indicated that it can manufacture its trains in Spain or set up a manufacturing base in India. Talgo has said that if it manufactures trains in Spain, it will take at least 18 months from the date of manufacture for the first rain to roll out. Sources claimed that Talgo will be able to roll out two trains in 18 months. Another rider that the Spanish company has put up, said sources, is that India will have to place an order to make at least 500 compartments. Sources said it will cost Rs.6 crore to manufacture a compartment.

The other option is for the Spanish firm to set up a manufacturing camp in India. If this happens, it will take at least three years for the first train to see the light of day. The condition in this case is that the Spanish firm will require an order of at least 1,000 coaches. Besides, the land where it will set up shop will have to be provided.

The Test Trials Conducted By Officials From Talgo And Railways’ Research Design And Standard Organisation (RDSO) Which Ended Last Month Were Declared A Success By The Transporter

Nine train coaches that can run at a maximum speed of 200 kmph reached Mumbai by Ship from Spain in April. However, the width of the coaches is lesser than the specifications laid down by the Indian Railways. Talgo will, however, have to customize the width and interiors of its coaches to conform to the specifications laid down by the Indian Railways.

talgo-procurement-trialsHowever, as per procedure, it is mandatory for the railways to float tenders, but there is no guarantee that Talgo will bag the tender, the railways may consider bypassing the bidding process and go for a government-to-government contract, said sources in the railways who spoke strictly on the condition of anonymity.

In a final trial run of the train carried out on September 11, Talgo covered the 1,384 km distance between New Delhi and Mumbai Central in 11 hours 48 minutes at a speed of 150 kmph. The Rajdhani Express covers the same distance in 15 hours 50 minutes, running at a speed of 130 kmph.

Train speed has acquired a new significance for the Indian Railways (IR) of late. Last year saw India committing to build a Bullet train link between Mumbai and Ahmedabad. Early this year, IR launched Gatimaan Express which touched a record speed of 160 kmph in trial runs. And recent weeks have seen the Gatimaan Express record being bested by Spain-made Talgo trains which clocked 180 kmph in trial runs. While the performance of the Spanish train has raised the possibility of rail travel time being cut significantly without major infrastructure upgrade, it is yet not clear if Talgo is a doable project, with its benefits outweighing the costs.

That the train with a maximum speed of 220 kmph has drawn attention is not in doubt though. Trial runs on the Delhi-Mumbai route saw the train touch 150 kmph, reducing travel time by 4 hours as compared to Rajdhani Express. This is significant at a time the railways have launched Mission Raftaar under which measures are being taken to raise the average speed of passenger and freight trains.

Indian Railways presently use a mix of ICF (Integral Coach Factory) and Linke Hoffman Busch (LHB) coaches, the latter being an upgraded version of ICF coaches which can sustain speeds of up to 160 kmph (with modification 200 kmph). LHB coaches are broader and longer and have a greater seating capacity as compared to Talgo coaches. These features might work against the introduction of Talgo trains, given that the Indian Railways don’t have locomotive engines to carry loads faster than 180 kmph.

“The seating capacity of unmodified Talgo coaches is half that of LHB coaches; besides most coaches have chair-car arrangement while a majority of our trains have sleeper coaches designed for long-distance travel. As Talgo coaches have a very low base they are also not suitable for the high platforms we have,” says Abhay Krishna Agarwal, Partner Infrastructure & PPP at E&Y.

However, senior railway officials say that speeds of up to 160/180/220 kmph are not the only special feature of Talgo coaches which stand out also on account of their unconventional design. “The design of Talgo coaches makes them lighter and hence 30% more energy efficient. The coaches have an independent wheel set. There are only two wheels which are shared between two coaches unlike LHB coaches which require eight wheels per coach, making them heavy and unstable on curves at high speed,” a railway official part of the test trials tells.

The test trials conducted by officials from Talgo and railways’ Research Design and Standard Organisation (RDSO) which ended last month were declared a success by the transporter. However, IR hasn’t made any formal commitment to Talgo for procurement of such coaches and is not sure of the way forward. “We intend to approach the innovative council at Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) for consultation and permission. We are looking at developing our own version of such coaches; besides we are looking at floating a tender for energy efficient faster coaches, ” a senior railway official says.

There are analysts who argue against increasing train speeds without decongestion of the railway network and upgrade of track and signalling infrastructure. “The primary challenge right now is de-cluttering of the network since it is the main hurdle in the way of higher speeds; you have more than 240 high-density routes which lead to delays in passenger and freight trains. Besides that, IR needs to look at introducing private operators for trains with prudent track access charges and a premium pricing mechanism. It needs to look at a model which will allow it to reduce the cross-subsidy burden and enhance revenues,” says Agarwal.

AMT Inc., offers 500 Kmph MegLev at Rs.138 Crore per km

amt-maglevNew Delhi: An American firm specialising in magnetic levitation (Maglev) trains has created a stir by joining the fray for the Ultra High-Speed Trains, with a proposal for a Maglev train with a top speed of 500 km per hour at a construction cost of Rs 137.5 crore per km.

The Railways had called for Expressions of Interest (EoI) for Maglev trains and they were opened on September 6. Six firms had submitted proposals.

A comparison with the bullet train project will make it clear why the US firm’s proposal is significant. The cost of construction of the 320 kmph Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail, commonly called bullet train, is Rs 140 crore per km, considering the 508-km line has a construction cost of Rs 70, 915 crore, including land acquisition.

The current construction cost of the 33.5 Colaba-Bandra-Seepz Metro is Rs 540 crore per km. This is justifiable since it is a completely underground system being built deep inside Mumbai’s hard basalt rock core.

Tony Morris, Chief Executive Officer of the Georgia-based American Maglev Technology (AMT), confirmed the development. “American Maglev is expressing interest to transfer new intellectual property in order to partner with the Indian Railways to create a uniquely new mobility solution for the Indian subcontinent as well as a new green high-tech export with thousands of jobs for Indians. At less than $22 million (Rs 137.5 crore) per km, this technology will have wide application on a global basis. The 137.5 crore-per km proposal is all-inclusive, except for land acquisition,” Morris said.

“For Maglev, we propose an elevated fixed guideway with no grade crossings (level crossings in Indian Railway lingo) of any kind. These elevated structures will be built above the existing publicly owned land like roadways, rail, and other utility corridors,” he said.

While Railway officials confirmed that the US firm’s proposal could give the proposed bullet train projects a run for their money, it might not be the case for Metro corridors in urban landscapes like Mumbai. With the Right of Way for Metro projects always an issue in land-starved Mumbai, having a ramrod straight corridor, as is required by Maglev trains, might be a distant dream in Mumbai.

“The key issue for Maglev is that it requires a detailed study on the exact route alignment and the ability to keep the route very, very straight, without having to buy lots of private land. At 500 km per hour, the route must be almost perfectly straight, or else passengers will experience unacceptable, uncomfortable and unsafe forces. In a curve, the speed is limited by passenger comfort, and there is no compromise on passenger safety and comfort,” Morris explained.

RDSO provides break-up of money spent on Talgo trial runs

Talgo Train in Izzatnagar WorkshopLucknow: The railways would be spending upwards of Rs.5 crore to test the Spanish-built Talgo rakes. In reply to a Right To Information (RTI), the Research Design Standards Organisation (RDSO) provided the break-up of the money spent during the first three phases of the trial. It further stated that as the timing trials were in progress, it was unable to give a final figure spent on testing. A few officials, however, said it might cost as much as Rs.5 crore.

According to the RDSO, the riding, safety and stability trial that took place between Bareilly, Moradabad and Saharanpur at a maximum speed of 115 kmph cost the railways Rs.1.07 crore. The second phase of the trial, which was conducted at a maximum speed of 180kmph between Mathura and Palwal stations, cost the railways Rs.1.2 crore. The third phase, to test the train’s Emergency Braking Distance (EBD), cost Rs.28.77 lakh. The total cost for these three phases came to be around Rs.2.56 crore.

Meanwhile, Talgo has had six timing trials between Mumbai and Delhi, the last of which was completed on September 10-11. The train reached Mumbai Central at 2:33am on September 11, completing the Delhi-Mumbai stretch in 11 hours and 48 minutes, at an average speed of 117.5km per hour.

The officials whom dna spoke to maintained that the train that was tested was not conducive for running on Indian Railways under current conditions as the rake was slimmer and lower than what is ideal for platforms in India.

“The width of long-distance trains in India is 3,250mm and suburban trains running in Mumbai have a width of 3,660mm. The Talgo Avril at 3,200mm might be something that is close to what India railway conditions warrant but it is very early to say anything. It is not even clear if the railways would place an order in the first place,” said an official.

As reported earlier, the Talgo testing comes with no pre-condition and the railways may choose not to purchase any rakes from the Spanish manufacturer.

Railways considering more Talgo trains between metros

Indian Railways is looking at similar light weight type trains for speedy run on the existing network

talgo-light-weightNew Delhi: After the successful trial of Spanish made Talgo train, Railways is considering introduction of light weight aluminium coaches in the rail network to reduce the travelling time between metropolis.

The Talgo train completed its final trial between Delhi and Mumbai in less than 12-hours at a maximum speed of 150 km per hour speed yesterday. Currently the super-fast Rajdhani Express takes around 16 hours to cover the same distance.

We are exploring the possibilities of introduction of light weight aluminium coaches in our railway system, Railway Board Member (Rolling Stock) Hemant Kumar told PTI.

talgo-light-weight-selfieAsked whether Talgo train will be considered for the Railways’ future high speed projects, Kumar said “We are looking at similar light weight type trains for speedy run on the existing network.”

The light weight Spanish Talgo train hauled by Indian Railways locomotive covered the distance between Delhi and Mumbai in 11 hours 42 minutes in its final trial yesterday.

The Spanish-made coaches with Indian Railways locomotive had left New Delhi at 2.45 PM on September 10 and reached Mumbai at 2.33 AM next day early morning on September 11 covering the 1,384 km stretch travelling at about maximum speed of 150 KMPH.

Kumar said it was a successful trial by the Talgo train comprising light weight aluminium coaches with tilting technology.

selfie-with-talgo-light-weightAsked about the way forward for acquiring such type of coaches, he said “we are examining every aspects. Whether to go for single tender or opting for open tendering process to acquire such train, we have to take a call on it.”

However, he said “Talgo train design has to be changed as it cannot run in its existing form. While the width has to be increased from the existing size, the footboard height has also to be increased to match our platform height.”

Talgo trial was conducted here without any cost to railways as the Spanish company did bear the entire cost of shipment of coaches from Spain to here.

Talgo aims to reduce travel time between Delhi-Mumbai by four hours. Currently, the super-fast Rajdhani Express train takes around 16 hours to cover the distance between New Delhi and Mumbai.

Railways stalls Talgo trial info under RTI

Claims exemption under Section 8 (d) of the RTI Act pertaining to information related to trade secrets and intellectual property rights

spanish train talgo in indiaMumbai: The railways and its various zones, especially Western Railway, might have gone on a PR overdrive at the trials of the Spanish-built Talgo train, but it refused to share details of the trial under a Right to Information plea filed by Essel Group’s DNA.

The Railway Board, in its RTI reply, said the trials of Talgo were satisfactory but stalled the details of these trials by claiming exemption under Section 8 (d) of the RTI Act. Section 8 (d) pertains to information related to trade secrets and intellectual property rights and the RTI exempts the disclosure of these facets as it could harm the competitive position of a third party, in this case Talgo.

However, the railways’ reply on some other questions go a long way in dispelling some myths of the Talgo trials. After all the Talgo trial is something the railway has been milking as one of its biggest achievements since the National Democratic Alliance came to power in May 2014. Essel Group gave a lowdown on the Talgo trial saga:

No Make in India as of now:

Despite the government’s avowed stance on Make in India and the grand plans to make the country a manufacturing hub, the Talgo trial does not have any Make in India angle as of now. In a reply to DNA’s query on whether the Railways has got an assurance from Talgo that it will construct coaches in India as part of ‘Make in India’ programme of the Union government, the railways replied that ‘no such assurance has been given by Talgo to the Ministry of Railways’.

Who is bearing the cost of the trials:

Contrary to popular public perception, the trials are being paid for by the railways and not Talgo. The railways has so far spent Rs 2.56 crores on carrying out the trials. The only cost Talgo has paid for is to the bring the rake from Spain to Izzatnagar workshop of North-Eastern Railway, the latter being the start point of the trial. The railway ministry has replied that so far Phase 1 and 2 of safety, stability and riding assessment trials on Bareilly-Moradabad-Saharanpur and Mathura-Palwal have been completed. Three trial runs between Mumbai and Delhi has also been completed.

No agreement between Railways and Talgo on testing:

Ironically in its reply to DNA’s RTI, the railways has said that there is no agreement that has been signed between the railways and Talgo for testing the latter’s rake in India. It opens up a debate on how the idea for Talgo trials started at the railways. After all Talgo, as well as some other Spanish train firms, signed an agreement with the ministry of railways way back in November 2012, under the erstwhile United Progressive Alliance (UPA) but there was not much movement on it. However in a letter dated September 3, 2015 the railways asked the Research Design Standards Organsation (RDSO) to examine Talgo’s proposal to conduct on-field trials of the latter’s rake.

Is there any assured purchase deal:

The railways replied in the negative to a query on whether Talgo has been assured of a minimum quantity of purchase as part of any agreement to test the Talgo rake in India.

The Talgo Mumbai-Delhi trial report:

Trial Claimed Time Completed time Speed Unusual Occurrence Time Stoppage

First (Aug1) 12h, 47min 15h, 41min 106.52kmph Over 3 hours 30mins

Second (Aug 5) 12h, 53min 12h, 36min 130kmph 18 minutes 26mins

Third (Aug 9) 12h, 02min 12h, 07min 140kmph 12 minutes 20mins

(The trial report is not part of the RTI and is a compilation from various railway press statements)

BHEL, Swiss firm among six other companies show interest in Maglev Train

High-speed transport technology companies from the US, Switzerland, Germany and Japan have shown interest in the Indian Railways’ ambitious Maglev plan, but cost remains a stumbling block.

maglev train modelNew Delhi: Makers of the magnetic levitation trains from the US, Europe and Japan have shown interest in a tender floated by Indian Railways to demonstrate the technology in India even as doubts on implementing the expensive project remain.

While the Indian Railways was conducting trials of the Talgo train, three firms—two from the US and one from Japan—approached the railway ministry to try their high-speed train technologies. Following this, the government floated a tender, inviting expressions of interest to run levitation-based trains at a minimum speed of 350 kmph to carry passengers and cargo.

Since then, high-speed transport technology companies from the US, Switzerland, Germany and Japan have shown interest in the ambitious plan, a railway ministry official said on condition of anonymity. Among these are SwissRapide AG of Switzerland, Maglev 2000 of the US and a consortium that includes Tesla Motors Inc. of the US.

According to sources, four Indian companies and one firm each from Switzerland and the US have come forward for developing the system. The companies from India are M/S Agile Setu Private Limited from Surat, M/S Medha Servo Drivers Pvt Ltd from Hyderabad, M/S Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd Delhi and Mr Sharad M Marathe from Gurgaon.

While Medha Servo Drives builds control systems for diesel locomotives for the Indian Railways, officials termed Agilu Setu as a “surprise entrant” in the race and said the Surat-based company has proposed hyperloop high-speed transportation technology for Maglev.

Railways officials said Sharad M. Marathe is the President and CEO of Universal Technical Systems Inc based in the USA. “Mr. Marathe is in the process of forming a joint venture with a firm ET3, Evacuated Tube Transportation System. Since the JV could not be incorporated, he didn’t mention the name of the new firm in his proposal,” a senior Railways official said.

“We will be looking at the responses that we have received and match that with the technicalities and technology we had asked for. We will then frame specifications and then call for proposals within next four months,” Executive Director-Mechanical Engineering (Development), Railway Board Mr.Nitin Chowdhary said.

The developer of the Maglev train will be responsible for designing, testing, building, running trials and operations of the levitation-based system between two key cities at a distance of 200-500 km. As the trains are propelled by magnetic forces, friction is eliminated, making transportation free of noise and vibration.

The developer will be given a free-hand in running the train services, fixing schedule, fares and add-on services on board, as per the EoI document.

Maglev (magnetic levitation) is a technology where the train floats 1-6 inches above the track on a cushion of magnetic power and runs at a minimum speed of 350 kmph and maximum 500 kmph.

Aida S. Von Schulman, Vice President and Director (Business Development) at SwissRapide, said in an email, “We see a high potential for ultra-high speed Maglev rail systems in particular for India. A high-speed/ultra-high speed rail network would not only be a key factor in supporting the economic development in the country, but would also significantly reduce the carbon footprint in India, as long as the electrical power were to be supplied via renewable energy sources (a strong philosophy of our company).”

Her company operates Shanghai’s Transrapid Maglev since January 2004, and has covered more than 30 million km and transported over 25 million passengers.

Schulman said she would recommend for India the German Transrapid Ultra-High Speed Maglev Rail system, which SwissRapide operates, since it’s significantly more cost-effective and twice as fast as conventional, steel wheel/rail high-speed rail systems.

She added that the Transrapid Maglev rail technology is fully developed for public use and has received safety approvals in Germany and runs at 400-500 kmph, with average speeds of over 400 kmh between stations.

Emails to Maglev 2000 and Tesla remained unanswered till the filing of this report.

“The technology holders are asking usto look forward to more high-end technology like second generation Maglevs and Hyperloops and also extend the time. Since the last date for submitting EOI (expression of interest) is 6 September, Indian Railways will wait for formal responses, and based on that, we will take a call on re-inviting EOI and change some terms and conditions,” the rail official quoted earlier said, adding that the companies were requesting Indian Railways not to limit itself and be open to showcasing new ideas.

The current EOI wants the demonstrating company to do the entire design, simulation, testing, validation, building, trials, modifications, operation, running and maintenance of the levitation-based train system for the specified stretch of approximately 200-500 km, which shall include a test and trial stretch of approximately 10-15 km.

The cost of the trial stretch will be borne by the demonstrating company. Once the companies show their proof of concept, Indian Railways will conduct a safety audit and finalize the project.

Indian Railways executive director, mechanical engineering (development) Nitin Chowdhary said, “The train must be of such a design so as to ensure adequate safety of passengers in line with the established norms for high-speed railway systems. The system should be fail-safe even for the levitation system, i.e. in the event of failure of any system of the train track or controls, the passengers/cargo should be safe.” He added that permission to build the system beyond the test track shall be granted only after a successful demonstration.

Building a Maglev train in India could be easier said than done. Several nations like the UK and Germany have shelved such projects because of the steep cost. In 2007, the Maharashtra government planned a Maglev and did a pilot study, but there has been no progress since.

An infrastructure expert from consutancy KPMG India called the Maglev project “a waste of time and resources” for Indian Railways. “Before making such a big investment, Indian Railways should also think about project returns. In a country like India, where passenger fares are a political issue and Indian Railways or Delhi Metro Rail Corp. cannot increase it owing to consumer pressure, how would you get the returns for such expensive projects?.” He added that no firm would invest in demonstrating proof of concept till they have assurance of a big project.

Schulman said, “Financing infrastructure will be a major hurdle for these projects. A key condition for success is that a positive business case be demonstrated, in order to make private financing of the projects available. Since the total cost of ownership of Transrapid Ultra-Highspeed Maglev technology is about 40% lower than conventional high-speed railway systems, a strong business case is much more feasible for the Transrapid systems. Also, since the Transrapid Maglev is at least twice as fast, we believe implementing the conventional high-speed railway systems would be a move in the wrong direction for your country.”

However, on funding, Chowdhary said, “Railways shall provide the land for the project with permission to construct the levitation train system and associated infrastructure to be detailed in the bid document to be issued by the government subsequently. Also, railways shall participate in the joint venture (JV) with suitable equity contribution. Balance funding shall be provided by the private partner of the JV.”

Mission 350 Plus: Railways to host High-speed Rail Conference to explore Levitation Technology

Moving ahead on its Mission 350 Plus, Railways will organise a global meet to explore the possibilities of introducing ultra-high speed technology to run trains at a speed of 500 km per hour.

New Delhi: In a bid to explore various options to enhance the speed of trains, the railways would be hosting an international conference in the national capital. The ministry of railways is looking at various technology available across the world, including the Maglev which can clock the speed of 500 kmph. The conference is part of the Mission 350 plus stated by the Railways minister Suresh Prabhu to explore the possibility of running trains in excess of 350 kmph in the country.

“Railway minister Suresh Prabhu has envisioned Mission 350 Plus in which the Railways should enter the futuristic field of ultra-high speed rail network,” said Mr Hemant Kumar, Railway Board member (Rolling Stock). He added that the railways is working towards building an Indian technology which is economical and on par with the best.

Mr Kumar also informed that the railways has floated an expression of interest (EoI) tender for developing, constructing and running ultra-high speed railway system in India on PPP basis. The EoI is closing on September 6. The railways has so far received four global players who have shown interest in the project, sources said.

The railways is expecting that the EoI will give a full view of emerging technologies available in the world. The railways is hopeful that it would be able to move forward on Mission 350 Plus.

The one-day international conference will be held on September 2 which will see participation of a number of large companies involved in running high speed trains.

It is expected that the EoI will give a full view of emerging technologies available in the world in this frontier area of railway technology and enable Indian Railways to move to the next step of sanctioning a project.

Trains can run at more than 350 km per hour speed with the use of levitation technology which is operational in Germany, China and Japan, among other countries, he said.

In order to take this mission further, Railways is organising a one-day international conference on September 2 here on technology for ultra high speed rolling stock for operation at maximum speeds of 500 kmph and above.

Kumar said the conference has been organised to bring focus on development ultra-high speed railway systems in the country.

“This will create a confluence of minds and ideas from across the globe and become a catalyst for a major transformation of Indian Railways to an ultra modern railway system, on par with the best,” Kumar added.

The conference has evoked interest from all major players in the field of ultra-high speed including Germany, USA, Japan, Switzerland and Spain.

Kumar said, “The Railway Minister’s vision is to make rolling stock the driver for this major shift from India being a technology importer and manufacturer to becoming a developer and designer for futuristic rolling stock technologies.” HyperLoop Transport Technology from USA, Quadralev USA, Talgo from Spain, RTRI Japan, Siemens Germany, Knorr Bremse, Germany, Prose Switzerland are expected to participate in the meet.

Besides, delegates numbering about 500 from railways, Indian industry, diplomatic community, international industry, federations of unions in railways are likely to attend the conference

 

Hyperloop can build System with a sixth of Highspeed Rail budget use a fraction of energy

Hyperloop concept was first released in 2013 by Tesla and SpaceX’s Elon Musk as an alternative to high-speed rail. Musk said he wanted to make Hyperloop an open-source project for high-speed transportation. Several separate entities have since been formed to explore the possibilities.

Musk’s white paper had the basic concept of how a pod could propel over 100,000 people at the speed of sound, from one city to another in vacuum tubes. It felt like an idea from the world of HG Wells. Within a year, two companies said they had raised money. One is Hyperloop Transportation Technology (HTT) and the other Hyperloop One – a Boeing or Airbus of the Hyperloop world.

They have slugged it out in the press for months, claiming to have an upper hand in technology. Bibop Gresta, bottom, left, COO, HTT, spoke to Patanjali Pahwa on Sunday at the i5 summit organised by the Indian Institute of Management, Indore. Excerpts:

Population density and the lack of infrastructure are two primary reasons to look at India as a market.

Hyperloop can build the system with a sixth of the budget of high-speed rail, using a fraction of energy. 

Lufthansa and BMW sponsor most of our events. We are not a threat to them. We are better than them

2016 is a breakthrough year for Hyperloop
2016 is a breakthrough year for Hyperloop

Your visit comes at a time when India is betting big on high-speed trains? Do you see a market here for HTT?

We are here primarily to speak to your politicians and see if there is a real interest in solving the transportation problems of this country. The population density and the lack of infrastructure are two primary reasons to look at India as a market.

India is talking about implementing new ways of transportation. You have been talking, for years, about high-speed rail. I believe, this could be the worst thing to do. It is obsolete technology and it will be a burden on the next generation.

India doesn’t need to repeat the mistakes of other countries. And high-speed rail is a mistake. These high-speed rail systems mean you spend too much money and can’t recoup the investment.

What do you mean by mistakes? Please explain.

I was talking to the Chinese rail authority officials before I came to India. They said they had to speed up the line three times because the system had reached its maximum capacity on certain routes.

Above 600 kmph, there is so much resistance in the air that it becomes liquid. The amount of energy you need to increase the speed depends solely on how much energy is pushed in. That is expensive and doesn’t work in the long term.

How does Hyperloop change that?

When you talk about Hyperloop, there is no air. So there’s no resistance. Theoretically, you can go at the speed of light. We can build the system with a sixth of the budget of high-speed rail, using a fraction of energy.

The way we produce energy is interesting: solar panels, wind, regenerative energy and in cases where solar is not possible, we will use geo thermal. This means, we will produce 30 per cent more energy than we consume. Hyperloop effectively becomes a giant power station that also happens to transport people.

But is India a viable market? In Mumbai and Bengaluru, it took a better part of a decade to get simple Metro lines ready.

The best place to build a Hyperloop is underground but right now because we don’t have the technology, we will build it on pylons.

Building on pylons means we can take advantage of the right of way that already exists. We can use existing infrastructure to give us an entry and exit into the city. It has miles and miles of right way. If needed, we can start building it now. We have already analysed two potential corridors in the country.

What about the displacement of the local population? That is one of the big reasons why projects get delayed here.

Right now, when we build a railway of highway, we make a barrier. Farmers cannot pass to the other side, neither can animals. It is disastrous. Building on pylons takes it all out. The way we build it, the pylons can resist an earthquake with magnitude of 9 on the Richter scale.

We put a pylon every 60 meters and don’t block the road. The pylons are made in a way that the electricity produced by the Hyperloop can be given out, it can collect water, we can bring electricity and bandwidth.

We increase the value of the land. India can be a good country to build that. Instead of using a technology which needs high maintenance cost, we can build something cheap and clean. There is no expense to run it because there is no friction or mechanical parts.

You have been accused by various media outlets of being too secretive about your designs. You haven’t even released the results of the tests.

What you see right now on the internet is not what will emerge. Why won’t we give out our designs? We have another player in the market and we don’t want to give them anything they can copy. They came in one year after us and that’s what they do. You will see us releasing some designs at a time where it can’t be used against us.

But what about testing and prototypes?

We are building the prototype right now. We hope to get a few permissions in February for our project in LA. In 2019, we should have our first ride. This we could foresee. What we could not were our parallel projects. We signed two big deals: one in Slovakia and the other we haven’t announced yet.

Internet is full of speculation that the second deal is in Dubai?

I won’t give you the name. But it could be a country which could see the first Hyperloop system in the world.

Even before Los Angeles?

Possibly.

Do you see any Indian partnerships on the horizon?

We have hired 14 people in India who are discreetly working for us. We will announce details of these partnerships soon. We believe India could be the focal point for engineering and computer programming. We are doing a call to action for all companies that want to join us. We have 600 people working for us in 52 countries. But they will come on as consultants, not acquisitions. Acquisitions are also on the table.

What is your long-term plan?

We want to create a sustainable company. We don’t want to use exhaustible resources as unlimited ones. If you had to build a high-speed rail system between two cities in the US, you will need to keep the mines occupied for 24 years, at 99 per cent of capacity. And imagine transporting steel to the site because it can only be welded on site. This is not sustainable or smart.

We don’t want to be builders. We seek to make local partnerships to help us build our system. Maybe in phase two or three we might go there. But right now we just want to be a platform. We want to be Disney.

Concord started with a similar ambition of reducing time of travel but it retired in 2003. How do you stop HTT from becoming another Concord?

Concord did two things wrong. One, it was expensive and polluting. Two, it was a blackhole for other service providers. Airlines make money of business class and first class passengers. They pay a premium so the rest of them can pay less and travel.

If you take away the first class passengers, the airline industry collapses. We don’t do that. We are complimentary to others. Not a replacement. In fact, Lufthansa and BMW sponsor most of our events. We are not a threat to them. We are better than them.

Railways to send 400 Officers to Japan to train in Bullet Train tech

Japan to train HSR projects in IndiaNew Delhi: With country’s first bullet train project scheduled for commissioning in 2023, Indian Railways plans to send 400 of its employees to Japan for training in engineering, operational and safety aspects related to the project.

These officials from various railway zones having expertise in different areas will be trained at the expense of Japanese government. The first section of the bullet train between Mumbai-Ahemdabad is being constructed in collaboration with Japan, which has offered an assistance of over Rs 79,000 crores for a period of 50 years.

“It is a completely new technology and we need to train our officials in various aspects so that we have manpower having knowledge of its process and engineering,” said a railway ministry official, adding this will be the highest number of officers being send by railways overseas for training.

Railway is expected to close loan negotiations with Japan by end of this year and work is expected to begin in 2018 to ensure its commissioning in time by 2023. The total cost of the project has been pegged at Rs 97,636 crores and to be implemented in a period of seven years.

“There are lot of work that needs to be done like we have to develop our own standards for high speed rail network and those needs to be vetted. We should also have a regulatory framework for the whole system. These are being jointly worked upon,” the official added.

It has been agreed upon to adopt Shinkansen Technology for Mumbai-Ahmedabad HSR Project. The cooperation of Japan on this project will also be fixed on transfer of technology and ‘Make in India’.

Railway has formed a National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL), a special purpose vehicle (SPV), with a paid-up capital of Rs 500 crore for the project. Railways has already allotted Rs 200 crore for the SPV and Maharashtra and Gujarat will have equity of 25 percent each, while the Railways will have 50 per cent in the SPV.

A final feasibility report by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) suggested that fare of the bullet train between Mumbai and Ahmedabad may be somewhere around one and half times more than the fare of the first AC of Rajdhani Express and it would be around Rs 2,800.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu in parliament had said that the fare of Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed rail network will be affordable to people and less than the airfare between the two cities.

Japan to train IR Rail personnel on operating the first Bullet Train

New Delhi: With Indian Railways venturing into the age of high-speed rail, the government has tied up with Japan to train the manpower required to drive the new age transport system.

Japanese experts will train railway personnel for operating the first bullet train in India. According to railways, there will be a requirement of nearly 10,000 skilled personnel to operate the bullet train as well as the other high speed corridors being developed in the country.

A senior railway ministry official said a training centre will be set up in India where the best of the Indian Railway staff will be trained to operate and maintain the high speed trains.

TRAINING CENTRE TO BE SET UP IN INDIA

Of these, nearly 4,000 staff will be required for the 508 km Mumbai – Ahmedabad bullet train corridor. “Indian train drivers will be trained in high-speed train driving simulator to practice how to control trains in extreme weather conditions and at speeds varying from 50 km per hour to 300 km per hour,” a railway ministry official said.

Apart from the bullet train, the Indian government is taking up work on five long distance high speed corridors and eight other semi-high speed corridors. The first semi-high speed Gatimaan Express between Delhi and Agra The game has not been launched in India yet has already started. The train runs at the speed of 160 km per hour.

ENGINEERS, TECHNICIANS TO BE TRAINED

A railway board official said that to meet the requirement, a pool of highly trained loco pilots and technicians will be created. Unlike the normal express trains, the high speed trains will be driven by two main pilots instead of one assistant pilot.

“Only the senior-most loco pilots, with over 20 years of experience, will be trained initially. Mental ability, quick decision making and medical fitness are critical for drivers on high speed trains.

Once they qualify the physical test, they will be put to training on simulators,” officials said adding the place where the training centre will be set up is yet to be decided. Similarly, the engineers and technicians of Indian Railways will also be trained to repair and maintain these trains as the high speed technology is entirely new to the country.

Talgo’s crucial less than 12 hour Delhi-Mumbai trial run by on Aug 12

Talgo trial: At a maximum speed of 150 kmph, the train will aim to complete the Delhi to Mumbai Rajdhani route journey in 11 hours and 38 minutes.

Talgo TrialsWill Talgo’s train complete the Delhi to Mumbai journey in less than 12 hours during the final phase of its trial runs? August 12 is the date when the Spanish company’s claims will be put through the last test! At a maximum speed of 150 kmph, the train will aim to complete the Delhi to Mumbai Rajdhani route journey in 11 hours and 38 minutes.

Presently, the Rajdhani Express takes almost 16 hours on that stretch. Talgo’s nine-coach train, being pulled by an Indian Railwaysengine, will leave from Delhi at 14:45 hours and if all goes well, will reach Mumbai at 02:23 hours on August 13.

Talgo’s maiden trial on the Delhi to Mumbai Rajdhani route may have taken longer than expected due heavy rainfall and track washout, but the Spanish company still has three more runs to prove its claim of higher speeds and less travel time. Indian Railways has drawn up the schedule for the remaining three trial runs of the final phase. The tests will happen on August 5, 9 and 12. On August 5, the train will depart from Delhi at 14:45 hours and aim to reach Mumbai at 03:21 hours on August 6. The journey will be conducted with a maximum permissible speed of 130 kmph and a cant deficiency of 125mm. Cant deficiency deals with the train’s speed on curves. Talgo has said that with these parameters, the train should be able to complete the trip in 12 hours and 36 minutes. For the August 9 trial, a maximum speed of 140 kmph will be tried, with the objective of taking 12 hours and 4 minutes. Cant deficiency for all three runs will be 125mm.

Asked why four trial runs (including August 1 run) instead of the earlier plan of three are now being conducted, Vijay Kumar, Executive Director, Infrastructure at Railway Board told, “We thought that a leap from 130 kmph speed to 150 kmph is a lot. Hence the decision was taken to gradually increase the speed to first 140 kmph and then 150 kmph.” Incidentally, all four test runs will take place from Delhi to Mumbai and not Mumbai to Delhi. “This is because we (Indian Railways) want to check all technical parameters on the same track,” explains Vijay Kumar.

The Suresh Prabhu-led Railway Ministry declared the August 1 trial a success, based on the speed attained and travel time cut that the Talgo train achieved till Surat. On August 1, Talgo train left Delhi at 19:55 hours and reached Mumbai Central at 11:36 AM on August 2, taking 15 hours and 41 minutes, having run late due to rains en route and point failure at Mathura Junction. Rajdhani Express takes 15 hours and 50 minutes to traverse the distance between New Delhi and Mumbai Central. If Talgo’s trial had gone as per schedule and without any glitches, the train was expected to have taken 12 hours 47 minutes for the journey, that is approximately 3 hours less than Rajdhani.

IR issues EoI for MagLev Train Technology roll out in India

If Indian Railways had its way, you’ll ride at 500 kmph on Maglev trains; here’s how

The Indian Railways issued an Expression of Interest (EoI) for Magnetic Levitation (MagLev) train technology on 2nd August 2016, apparently following a briefing to Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu.

The EoI invites interested companies to design, build, operate and maintain MagLev systems for both passenger travel and cargo transportation. The deadline for submittal is 6 September.

Technical and commercial bids would be called for at a later stage.

The Indian Government would provide the land, while the company awarded the contract would design the train and build a 200 – 500 km long elevated track, after successfully demonstrating the technology over a test distance of 10 – 15 km.

Once completed the MagLev system would be operated under a Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) model.

The Indian Ministry of Railways has shortlisted four railway routes for the implementation of MagLev technology:

  1. Bengaluru – Chennai
  2. Hyderabad – Chennai
  3. New Delhi – Chandigarh
  4. Nagpur – Mumbai

The expected average speed would be 350 km/h, with a top speed of 500 km/h.

The maximum speed recorded so far in the country was clocked on 14 July 2016 during the ongoing Talgo High Speed Rail (HSR) train trials: 180 km/h. The previous national record belonged to the Gatimaan Express, a semi high speed train that runs between Delhi and Agra.

The world’s fastest commercial MagLev train currently operates in Shanghai at a top speed of 430 km/h. The 30.5 km line connects Shanghai Pudong International Airport to the outskirts of central Pudong.

Private players to run Malgev trains at 500 kmph. On the lines of civil aviation sector, Indian railways is keen to bring in private companies to build and operate private rail in India just like the private airlines.

Invitation of foreign private players to run high-speed trains running at 500 km per hour, faster than the proposed bullet train between Mumbai and Ahmedabad is on the lines of civil aviation sector, and Railways is keen to bring in private companies to build and operate private rail in India just as like private airlines.

According to railway officials, these trains will operate on magnetic levitation (Maglev) technique, which allows trains to run at very high speed. The minimum speed of these trains will be 350km per hour.

At present Maglev technology is used in countries like Japan, China, and Germany. An expression of interest has been issued by the Railway Ministry and private firms have been asked to submit their response by September 6. The modalities and specifications for the project will be finalised at a later stage.

The government proposed to undertake the Maglev project on a public private partnership (PPP) mode. Under this, the railways will provide land required for the project while the private firms will execute and operate the trains.

“The entire transportation infrastructure including railway stations, platforms, tracks, signal syetem, fare structure, and time table will be developed by the private firms while the land related issued will be taken care of by the railways. Revenue thus generated will be shared between the two parties,” said a railway ministry official.

Sources in Rail Ministry said the proposal is in keeping with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of taking railways to the age of high speed trains. While the railway ministry is working on several projects of bullet trains, high speed and semi-high speed trains, the Maglev trains will be a different experience all together.

This also assumes significance as the cash-strapped railways is exploring external sources of revenue to fund its projects. Of late, the railways have also been losing traffic to roads and air routes. For financial year 2015-16, the railways earned revenue of Rs 45,384 crore from passenger traffic against a target of Rs 50,175 crore. The target for the current financial year has been set at Rs 51,012 crore.

Experts believe that the rail traffic may further reduce after the regional air connectivity is improved. However, to counter this aspect, the railways are identifying the routes so as to make the private rail network financially viable.

A senior official of the Ministry of Railways says four routes – Bengaluru-Chennai, Hyderabad-Chennai, New Delhi-Chandigarh and Nagpur-Mumbai – have been identified for the Maglev trains. Since these routes are heavily congested, Maglev trains will be a big respite for the passengers. Officials said trains on these routes are running nearly 120 per cent saturation.

“The Indian Government shall provide land for the 200 to 500 kilometre-long project while the company that will eventually bag the contract will be expected to design the Maglev train and build an elevated track for running the train; all this only after it successfully gives a demonstration of the Maglev systems over a distance of 10 to 15 km,” the government proposal said. Globally, only a small number of countries have used the Maglev systems. These include Germany, China, Japan, South Korea and the US.

In China, the Maglev trains ply between Shanghai city and its airport, covering a distance of about 38 km. To make Maglev trains financially viable, the Indian Railways will also allow the private operator to introduce non-fare revenue models like wi-fi, movies, food and other add on services to be charged from passengers.

Maglev trains, are trains which use electromagnetic suspension systems to levitate on steel rails, which essentially reduces friction and allows the train to reach very high speeds

Paving the way for introducing levitation-based train systems (maglev trains),Indian Railways has floated a global tender inviting private entities for designing, building, operating and maintaining such train system on the public-private partnership model. The scope of work includes setting up a centre for levitation train technology, which will be jointly owned by the transporter.

Magnetic levitation trains, or maglev trains, are trains which use electromagnetic suspension systems to levitate on steel rails, which essentially reduces friction and allows the train to reach very high speeds. The transporter expects the developer to connect two major cities with levitation-based trains plying on an elevated corridor at the speed of 350-500 km per hour.

The levitation-based train is expected to carry passenger as well as cargo traffic. The land requirement for the project will be met by the transporter but all other works including building, designing, testing, operation, maintenance, and all other associated infrastructure works, will be carried out by the selected company. Currently, only China, Japan and South Korea have trains which run on levitation-based systems.

The project is part of the transporter’s overall plan to run high-speed (above 300 kmph) trains and semi-high-speed trains (above 160 kmph) along the golden quadrilateral. Indian Railways (IR) has already formed a company, National High Speed Rail Corporation of India, which is looking after the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project, which is expected to be operational in 2023-2024.

IR, as part of its project to develop high-speed and semi-high-speed corridors, has already introduced the Gatimaan Express, a semi-high-speed train, on the Delhi-Agra route.

The transporter is also in the final stages of introducing the Tejas, another semi-high-speed train, and is conducting trials for semi-high-speed compatible Talgo coaches that it will run on the Delhi-Mumbai route.

Malaysia to call High-Speed Rail tender within a year

Alor Setar: Malaysia’s transport minister Liow Tiong Lai said the tender for the High-Speed Rail (HSR) project which will link Kuala Lumpur and Singapore will be called within a year, reported Malaysian media on Saturday (Jul 16).

According to the Star Online, the minister told reporters at an event yesterday that he was looking forward to the signing of the memorandum on Tuesday.

“Once the signing is done, the authorities will prepare the tender documents. The tender will be called within a year’s time.

“Many international companies have shown interest in the project and we welcome that. This is a very important and prestigious project because it is the first in Asean,” the Star quoted him as saying.

Liow added that the project would bring economic development to Malaysia and Singapore.

Plans for the HSR were first announced in 2013 by Prime Ministers from both countries at a leaders’ retreat, with the Singapore terminus located at Jurong East and the Kuala Lumpur one at the upcoming Bandar Malaysia project. The proposed 350km-long line will take 90 minutes to traverse.

There will be two tracks with stops at stations in Malaysia such as Seremban, Ayer Keroh, Muar, Batu Pahat and Iskandar Puteri.

High-Speed Rail to significantly boost Malaysia’s economy: Analysts

The High-Speed Rail (HSR) line between Singapore and Malaysia is expected to give Malaysia’s economy a significant boost, said analysts ahead of the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Tuesday (Jul 19).

Estimated to cost around US$15 billion, the 350km double track railway project will have a direct service from Bandar Malaysia terminal in Kuala Lumpur to Jurong East in Singapore.

Fui Soong, CEO for the Centre of Strategic Engagement (CENSE) has equated the HSR to the North-South highway which had transformed and spurred economic development across peninsular Malaysia in the 1980s and 1990s.

She said the improved connectivity is expected to attract multinational companies to relocate to Kuala Lumpur or any of the five stops in between.

It will also enhance property values, boost tourism and encourage foreign direct investment, she added.

“In the last decade, we haven’t seen a huge mega project. This is something that will help the Malaysian economy, especially since we are seeing a slowdown and the oil prices muted. This will be a fiscal boost.”

For Prime Minister Najib Razak, getting the HSR off the ground has great significance for his political career, said Ms Fui Soong.

“This is an important legacy for him. In the last eight years or so, we have seen a lot of political upheavals, a lot of energy spent recapturing the hearts and minds of the people. Something like the HSR … will boost people’s confidence, as well as enhance the Prime Minister’s administration and his ability to deliver economic growth,” she said.

The MOU is the first formal step for the project which analysts said would not have been possible without a strong and deepening bilateral relationship between the two countries.

Keith Leong, who is the head of research at KRA Group, said: “It’s a sign of how ties really have improved between two countries compared to the previous decade when bilateral ties were static. It shows progress.”

However, the quality of the investment still “remains to be seen”, said Member of Parliament for the Klang constituency, Mr Charles Santiago.

“This mammoth project with its huge outlay will no doubt generate a huge multiplier effect,” he said to Channel NewsAsia. “But will there be know-how and technology transfer? Will employment be generated?”

The HSR has already attracted interest from the Far East. Japan Rail, Korail and China Railway have embarked on aggressive marketing campaigns to showcase their own HSR technologies.

The project is seen as an important milestone for bilateral relations and will be the first in Southeast Asia when it is expected to be completed in 2026.

Talgo clocks 180 km per hour on Mathura-Palwal section in 38 minutes

Talgo train outruns Gatiman clocking 180 km per hour, aims for 220 kmph

talgo india train set insideThe Indian Railways has conducted the second trial run for high-speed Talgo trains of Spain on the Palwal-Mathura section of the North-Central Railway. Spanish-made Talgo has become the fastest train in the country by clocking a speed of 180 km/hr by covering 84 km in 38 minutes in the trial, surpassing the record of Gatimaan Express.

The train successfully completed its trial run on Wednesday by clocking 180 km/hr due to its light and advanced technology, Prabhash Kumar, Divisional Railway Manager, Agra,  said.

Talgo is a Madrid-based Spanish leading manufacturer of semi-high speed (160-250 kmph) and high-speed (350 kmph) passenger trains, which are energy-efficient.

The trials were conducted with empty coaches. In the coming days, trials will take place with sand bags filling the passenger sitting spaces.

On the fifth day of the trial, the train covered 84 km in 38 minutes between Mathura and Palwal. The second phase of the trial run had resumed on July 9.

On the first day of the trial between Mathura and Palwal, the train had clocked 120 km/hr following which it was decided that its speed would be increased by 10 km/hr everyday.

Enthused by the successful trail runs, the speed of the train was increased to 170 km/hr on Tuesday.

Now the next trial run will be carried out by keeping sand bags to mimic passengers’ weight to check the train’s condition on turns.

The next trial will be carried out on the route of Mumbai-bound Rajdhani Express from Mathura.

Talgo aims to connect the national capital, New Delhi, with the financial capital, Mumbai.

The maximum speed of Gatimaan Express is 160 km/hr, Shatabdi Express 150 km/hr and Rajdhani Express is 130 km/hr.

Nagpur better off as Bullet Train hub: Ex.ME Subodh Jain

Nagpur_Railway_StationNagpur: The recent announcement by the railway ministry — in its brochure commemorating two years of the Narendra Modi government — of studies to plan a high-speed rail (bullet) route between Mumbai-Nagpur and Nagpur-Delhi has once again raised a debate. This is because the Mumbai-Nagpur line, which was first envisaged by the Congress-led Democratic Front government in Maharashtra, was shelved by the railways a few months ago.

Among the reasons officials had given at the time was that with the state government coming up with a high-speed expressway between the two cities and the Nagpur airport itself undergoing expansion, the economic feasibility of a bullet train was doubtful.

The Delhi-Nagpur HSR (railway lingo for bullet trains) study is part of the first phase of studies commissioned. The feasibility study of the line is yet to be taken up by the China Railway Siyuan Survey and Design Group company, said officials. Delhi-Nagpur is part of the Delhi-Chennai route being studied currently.

Subodh Jain, former Member Engineering, Railway Board, who also served as General Manager of Central Railway, said Mumbai-Nagpur HSR route isn’t feasible. “Even when we studied it at CR, the line was not feasible as there isn’t clientele for HSR at Nagpur. However, if the ministry makes Nagpur a hub for HSR and then lays routes to various cities from there, it will be a good idea,” said Jain, who was the railways’ topmost engineering authority in 2013-14 when a lot of bullet train studies were being envisaged and commissioned.

According to Jain, if Nagpur is made the hub, then routes can be constructed to Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Chennai, which would mean that Nagpur becomes the inter-change point for the country’s bullet train network.

“The advantage with Nagpur as a hub-cum-changeover point is that passengers will have to travel for lesser duration at a stretch in HSR trains having only seating arrangements. A journey of up to five hours is ideal for such sitting journeys; longer can inconvenience passengers. For railways, the construction schedule and commissioning of lines becomes easier with Nagpur as hub rather than building longer routes, which can be commissioned only when the entire route is ready,” said Jain.

Advantages of Nagpur as bullet train hub

1. It is at the centre of the country’s vast railway network with most important cities equidistant from it.

2. Land availability and cost considerations to make a massive hub terminal are better at Nagpur than at any metro city.

3. It will speed up development of the cities around Nagpur, which currently is a flashpoint for Left-Wing Extremism.

The Mumbai-Nagpur bullet train saga

The train’s feasibility is being studied by the Spanish government-owned railway infrastructure firm Adif, partnered by Ineco. Ineco had earlier studied the feasibility of a 135km high-speed line between Howrah and Haldia in West Bengal and is currently studying the Delhi-Kolkata HSR line. The counterpart agency from India in the study is the railway ministry-owned High Speed Rail Corporation. The consortium of Adif-Ineco-HSRC is expected to submit the first report on the Mumbai-Nagpur line by December this year, said the railway ministry officials.

The Takeaway for China from failed US High-Speed Rail Deal

US HSR by ChineseWhat is the most important lesson that China should learn from the recent termination of its U.S. rail deal? It is not that the overseas markets are complicated or that trade protectionism threats are lurking. What it demonstrates is that the United States cannot keep up with the times, and its public cannot rid themselves of vested interests, breaking the hope that the United States would enter an era of high-speed rail transport.

It is true that trade protectionism exists in America, since some forces in the United States regard China as their largest international rival. Nonetheless, trade protectionism seems not to have been a major reason for XpressWest’s unilateral termination of its deal with China Railway International Group to build a high-speed rail line from Los Angeles to Las Vegas.

Although the Buy America Act may be considered as an obstacle to deals with China, it does offer some exceptions. The act, which seeks to ensure that “infrastructure projects are built with American-made products,” may be waived if using the domestic material will increase the cost of the overall project by more than 25 percent.

It is by these exceptions that the CRRC Corp. Ltd. and some other Chinese companies have been exempted from the act, and have already been producing high-speed rail equipment in their U.S. factories. Therefore, XpressWest probably didn’t see the act as a sticking point when signing the contract with China Railway International Group.

The reason for XpressWest backing out may have been purely due to business considerations. The estimated construction costs are too high, the competition from road and air transportation is too fierce, and financing is difficult to obtain. All of these factors could have pushed the company to terminate the deal.

The U.S. Federal Government faces various difficulties in advancing its plans to build high-speed railways. Stopping the construction of its first high-speed rail project will hurt the United States more than China.

Massive infrastructure projects have always powered a country’s economic growth. During the industrial revolution, for example, the creation of canals, highways and railways greatly boosted the British economy. After World War II, U.S. President Eisenhower, learning from Germany’s autobahn network, pushed for a similar system in the United States, which eventually replaced Germany as the owner of the world’s largest network of expressways.

The United States used to have an outstanding capacity to undertake infrastructure projects but has nevertheless fallen behind in terms of high-speed railways. This indicates that there are underlying problems in its governance structure and that vested interests may be obstructing the United States from making sustained innovation and progress despite their former support of such endeavors.

We must also recognize that vested interests obstructing innovation and progress come not only from a small number of elites, but also from the public. Why did the first industrial revolution start from the emerging cotton textile sector and related equipment manufacturing not the wool textile industry long-developed in Europe? Besides the advantages over wool which cotton provided during its processing and use, workers in the wool textile industry also thwarted the revolution’s progress. Being fully dependent on wages from conventional labor, they resisted the mechanization of the industry. But in the emerging cotton textile industry, it was easier to hire new workers and to adopt new methods of production.

Due to this reason, although spinning frames were first designed for the mature wool textile industry instead of the emerging cotton textile industry, the former still fell behind the latter during the industrial revolution.

Therefore, China need not care about the failures of single projects as long as it has advanced technology and production capabilities. What China must learn from the United States is that if a country cannot keep up with the times, and if its public cannot rid themselves of vested interests, it will lose its capacity for innovation and progress.

Mei Xinyu – the author, is a researcher with the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation

Talgo train trial run in Mathura-Palwal section today

Spanish train Talgo runs at speed of 110-115 km per hour during trial between Bareilly-Moradabad
Spanish train Talgo runs at speed of 110-115 km per hour during trial between Bareilly-Moradabad

Mathura: Northern Railway will run the Spanish train Talgo at a maximum speed of up to 180 km per hour during the second phase trial on Saturday from Mathura station.

The second phase trial will be held between Mathura and Palwal stations on July 9, said a senior Railway Ministry official.

Earlier trial was carried out between Bareilly and Moradabad stations last month.

A team of Spanish officials along with railways officials and experts from Research Designs & Standards Organisation (RDSO) will be present onboard during the nine-coach Talgo train trial.

Talgo coaches are lightweight and designed in a way that it can run on curves without decelerating the speed.

“The trial will continue till July 26 and various aspects will be observed during the trial run,” the official said.

After the successful launch of semi-high speed Gatimaan Express, Talgo trial is being conducted as part of railways strategy to increase the speed of trains.

The nine-coach Talgo train consists of two Executive Class cars, four Chair Cars, a cafeteria, a power car and a tail-end coach for staff and equipment.

Hauled by a 4,500 HP diesel engine, Talgo train ran at a speed ranging between 80-115 km per hour during the first trial.

The trial will be conducted with empty coaches and after filling those with sand bags. The testing team will be in the coaches during trials.

Besides speed, testing team will also take note of vibration, safety and stability of lightweight coaches during the trial and these technical parametres were vital for high speed run.

About the earlier trial results, the official said report is under preparation with analysis of various technical data.

However, he said though the preliminary report is okay there will also be a final trial between Mumbai-Delhi route before finalising the report.

Shipped from Barcelona, the Talgo aluminium coaches anchored at Mumbai port on April 21.

The Delhi-Mumbai Rajdhani Express runs at an average speed of 85 km per hour while the Talgo train can maintain an average speed of 125 km per hour. Talgo envisages the journey between Delhi and Mumbai can be completed in about 12 hours as compared to 17 hours at present.

Besides reducing travel time, Talgo’s lighter trains consume 30 per cent less energy.

The Railways has set up a Mobility Directorate to work on strategies to increase speed of trains.

Semi-highspeed Trains on Delhi-Mumbai, Delhi-Kolkata routes planned

India Semi Highspeed Train GatimaanNew Delhi: With the first bullet train project schedule for commissioning in 2023, Indian Railways is now working on two busy sections Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Kolkata for running semi-high speed train to increase maximum speed to 160 kmph from the existing 130 kmph and reduce journey time by over five hours.

A proposal is being worked out in the Railway Board to increase speed on these two sections with basic infrastructure changes and less investment. Railway is already carrying out trials of Spanish train Talgo at some sections and it is also proposed to conduct trails on Delhi-Mumbai next month.

“The date of commissioning of bullet train is 2023 which is on Mumbai-Ahemdabad section and other corridors will come after that. It was felt that speed needs to be increased on some of the busiest sections and two sections are being explored for running the semi-high speed train by 2018-19,” said sources in the ministry.

A Japanese company had conducted a feasibility study on Delhi-Mumbai section in 2013 and it was estimated that Rs 15,500 crore would be needed to upgrade the track for running semi-high speed.

But if trials of Talgo trains are successful, it can be game changer as the company claims that these coaches can run at 160 kmph on the existing rails without any infrastructure changes. The cost of a Talgo coach is Rs 5 crore compared to Rs 23 crore per coach proposed by the Japanese company and half that of train sets, which railways is planning to buy. Talgo coaches require minimal infrastructure upgrade.

The Delhi-Mumbai Rajdhani Express runs at an average speed of 85 km per hour while the Talgo train can maintain an average speed of 125 km per hour. Talgo envisages the journey between Delhi and Mumbai can be completed in about 12 hours as compared to 17 hours at present. The Talgo coaches can run on curved rails without decelerating speed. Besides reducing travel time, Talgo’s lighter trains consume 30 percent less energy.

The Railways has set up a Mobility Directorate to work on strategies to increase speed of trains. Gatimaan Express – India’s first semi-high speed that clocks 160 kmph, was launched on the Delhi-Agra route in April.

IR plans ‘Mission 350 Plus’ to build Bullet Train coaches, MagLev trains

Indian Railways is planning various Bullet Trains coaches and MegLev Trains across the country, apart from the Mumbai-Ahmedabad one

Representational Image only - Siemens Russia MegLev in the Workshop
Representational Image only – Siemens Russia MegLev in the Workshop

Mumbai: In the biggest scale-up of its ambitions so far, the Indian Railways has set up two committees – one to shepherd its plans to build bullet train coaches capable of running at speeds higher than 350 km per hour, and the second to explore the feasibility of running trains based on magnetic levitation or MagLev trains, as they are known worldwide.

The bullet train coach plan, christened Mission 350 Plus, will be headed by Inderjeet Singh, Executive Director (Carriage) at the Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO), the railway’s apex technical body. The MagLev exploration committee will be headed by Nitin Chowdhary, currently Executive Director, Mechanical Engineering (Development) at the Railway Board. Both the committees have been given two months to submit their reports. The two plans were discussed extensively under the ‘future readiness’ module of the Indian Railways’ Chief Mechanical Engineers Conference held at Ooty in Tamil Nadu recently.

Over 45 of the Railways’ top mechanical engineering officers, led by member (mechanical), Hemant Kumar, attended the conference. The move comes in the backdrop of the Railways firming up studies for various bullet train routes across the country, apart from the Mumbai-Ahmedabad one.

These routes include Delhi-Chennai, Delhi-Mumbai, Delhi-Kolkata and Mumbai-Chennai, all part of the Railways’ High Speed Diamond Quadrilateral as well as routes like Delhi-Agra-Lucknow-Varanasi-Patna, Hyderabad-Chennai and Chennai-Bengaluru- Thiruvanathapuram.

“A High Speed Rail Network (railway lingo for bullet trains) takes almost half a decade to go from the drawing board to the first pile on the ground. It could be a decade before work starts on any of these projects. Preparing to have some kind of homegrown expertise to build such coaches, rather than just looking to import, is a good move,” said a railway official.

The MagLev, currently in operation in China and Japan, is a much more expensive proposition though speeds touched by these trains are in excess of what some bullet trains can achieve. Recently, Japan managed to run a MagLev train at over 600 kmph during a test, which is a world record for a train’s speed.

Talgo Highspeed Train trials on Mathura-Palwal route for speeds upto 180 kmph

Suresh Prabhu-led Indian Railways is conducting trial runs with Talgo train coaches, which the Spanish company claims can help Railways attain higher speeds, even on the existing tracks. Talgo’s coaches are all set to begin speed trials from July 7, a development that takes India closer to its dreams of having semi-high speed and high speed trains

Talgo TrialsNew Delhi: Talgo’s coaches are all set to begin speed trials from July 7, a development that takes India closer to its dreams of having semi-high speed and high speed trains. Suresh Prabhu-led Indian Railways is conducting trial runs with Talgo train coaches, which the Spanish company claims can help Railways attain higher speeds, even on the existing tracks.

Sources told that the coaches will be tried for speeds up to 180 kmph. “The speed trials which will begin on July 7, will continue till the end of July,” sources added. The trial will take place on the Mathura-Palwal route.

Indian Railways’ Research Designs & Standards Organisation (RDSO) has already been testing the coaches for safety and stability. Asked about whether the initial trials have been successful, an RDSO official told, “The report is under preparation with analysis of various technical data and technical aspects. The preliminary results appear OK. However, it would be inappropriate to comment anything on the results till the report is final.”

Talgo trains from Spain successfully completed the first set-up trial run between Izzatnagar and Bhojipura stations on the Bareilly-Moradabad rail route during May, where the luxury coaches were pulled by an Indian engine and were tested for sensors and derailment. The nine coaches of the train were run for around three hours at a speed of 50-km per hour. The speed trial of the coaches at a speed of 115 km per hour on the the 90-km long rail section between Bareilly and Moradabad also held for two weeks later. After the Bareilly and Moradabad route trial, the train will now be test-run on the route between Mathura and Palwal for 40 days with speed up to 180 km per hour!

The nine-coach Talgo train consists of two Executive Class cars, four Chair Cars, a cafeteria, a power car and a tail-end coach for staff and equipment.

Talgo’s coaches are said to weigh much less than an average Indian Railways coach, and that is what the company claims will help it run trains at a higher speed. They also consume 30% less energy, the Spanish company says.

India’s bullet train dreams seem to be on a fast track to being realised in some years. If a feasibility study, conducted by a Spanish firm, is anything to go by, then the travel time between Delhi and Kolkata may actually come down to less than five hours!

Multiple reports suggest that the feasibility study, which is being undertaken for the 1513 km long Delhi-Kolkata high speed corridor along with two other routes of the Diamond Quadrilateral project, has projected the travel time between Delhi and Kolkata to be as less as five hours.

Not only that, the train travel time between Delhi and Varanasi will be reduced to as little as 2 hours 45 minutes, suggest reports about the study.

Meanwhile, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has said that setting up of a high speed railway line on the Delhi-Chandigarh is in “preliminary-planning”. “Mumbai-Ahmedabad will be the first in the series. Later on Delhi to Chennai HSR, we want to take up. We had talks with a foreign company for this route, on which work would first be taken up on Delhi-Nagpur and then Nagpur to Chennai stretch,” Prabhu said.