Delhi-Chandigarh semi-HSR Corridor: Board reviews Progress on Works carried out by SNCF

Feasibility/implementation study being carried out by SNCF for New Delhi – Chandigarh corridor of existing Indian Railways network

With an aim to get a better understanding through first-hand experience, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu earlier travelled in the drivers' cabin of a high-speed train in France covering 150 km distance between Paris and Reims in 45 minutes (File Photo)
With an aim to get a better understanding through first-hand experience, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu earlier travelled in the drivers’ cabin of a high-speed train in France covering 150 km distance between Paris and Reims in 45 minutes (File Photo)

New Delhi: Minister of Railways Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu in his Rail Budget Speech of 2014-15 announced that New Delhi – Chandigarh Corridor will be upgraded for increasing the speed of passenger trains to 160/200 kmph. Ministry of Railways of the Republic of India had already signed an MoU with the French National Railways (SNCF) on 14.02.2013 on technical co-operation in various fields of Railways.

One of the areas of co-operation mentioned in the MoU is regarding exchange of experience, technologies & know-how for upgrading speed on existing infrastructure of Indian Railways.

To discuss the co-operation issues and specific projects, a high level delegation headed by CRB had visited the SNCF in France in May,2014. During the discussion, it was decided to take up speed raising on Delhi – Chandigarh Corridor. Later, during Hon’ble PM’s visit to France in April,2015 a protocol with SNCF on co-operation in Semi-High Speed rail on Delhi – Chandigarh Section was signed with the approval of Minister of Railways.

In December, 2015, an agreement was signed between Ministry of Railways and SNCF vide which the feasibility/implementation study of Delhi – Chandigarh Corridor for raising the speed of passenger trains to 200 kmph was awarded to SNCF on 50:50 percent cost sharing basis.

The total cost of the study is Rs.19,69,02,721/- (taxes extra) and the total time duration for its completion is one year. The study commenced on 19th January,2016 which has been divided into three phases and details of areas to be covered under each phase is indicated below:-

Phase–I (In four months from the date of commencement) – Technical Assessment involving field visits, surveys, review of possible technical solutions and development of three high level upgrading scenarios.

Phase–II (In two months from the date of completion of Phase –I) – Operation/Economic impact involving assessment of scenarios, impact on transport and operations plan, economic/financial impact for IR and selection of a preferred scenario with Indian Railways.

Phase-III (In six months after completion of Phase –II) – Execution plan and tenders involving reference design, bill of quantities, tender preparation and recommendations for a broader HSS upgrading programme by Indian Railways on a selected scenario.

At present Phase–I of the project is in progress. The total four months duration of Phase–I has been divided into four equal parts i..e each of one month duration and after every month, a detailed meeting is held with SNCF and concerned Northern Railway officials and the same has been named a Project Review. In today’s meeting i.e. on 18th May,2016, the third Project Review has been done.

Closer Cooperation

Earlier, SNCF and the Indian Railway Board signed a memorandum of understanding on working together in the rail sector. Inked in New Delhi by the then Railway Board Chairman Vinay Mittal and SNCF Chairman Guillaume Pepy, the master agreement refocuses the two partners on four priorities:

  • high-speed lines
  • station renovation
  • upgrades of India’s existing rail network
  • urban and regional transport services

The renewable five-year agreement, which builds on a partnership dating back to 2004, is part of India’s plan to expand its railway network between now and 2020.

SNCF in India

SNCF’s Systra and Geodis subsidiaries have been doing business in India for several years, with AREP and Keolis entering the market more recently.

  • In 2010, Systra contributed to a technical pre-feasibility study for the Pune-Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed rail line. It has also participated in various phases of metros in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Calcutta, as well as engineering works on dedicated freight lines launched by Indian Railways.
  • Geodis Wilson provides transport and logistics services to clients in India through a nationwide network of offices.
  • From 2009 to 2012, Arep Ville crafted the master plan for renovating Mumbai’s prestigious CST station, one of the busiest in the world, used by over a million passengers daily.

Keolis will operate the automated metro system planned for Hyderabad.

SNCF and Indian Railways have already decided to cooperate on a development study for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed rail line, which will cover nearly 450 km. SNCF is spearheading and funding the project with support from the French Ministry of Finance. Several SNCF divisions and subsidiaries—including Gares et Connexions, AREP, Keolis and Systra—may also be involved in carrying out the agreement with their Indian counterparts.

Larsen and Toubro Metro Rail (L&T), India’s leading engineering and construction firm, chose Keolis to operate and maintain the automated metro system planned for Hyderabad, capital of Andhra Pradesh state. The 71 km elevated network, designed to run on a viaduct, will be fully automated and is expected to carry 1.5 million passengers a day, with operations set to begin in 2015. During the construction phase, Keolis will act as a consultant, providing the operator’s perspective on the project. The goal: offer new mobility solutions to Hyderabad’s 9 million residents by expanding public transport.

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