Indian Railways to have only Highspeed and Semi-Highspeed network: CRB

Railways to implement Rs 18,000-crore project to run trains at 160 kmph. The Indian Railways has identified more routes for around 150 trains and the bidding process for selecting private train operators will begin soon, Yadav said.

NEW DELHI: The Indian Railways is in the process of transitioning to semi-high speed and high-speed network routes only, with train speeds of 160 and 320 kilometres per hour (kmph) across its entire network, a senior official said.

“We have decided to go for only two types of speed on our network,” Once the project begins, it will take at least four years to complete, he said after inaugurating the International Rail Conference-2019 and the 13th International Railway Equipment Exhibition.

The events have been organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in association with the Railways at Aerocity here.

“The existing network will be gradually upgraded to 160 kmph. And then we are going to have high-speed network at 320 kmph,” Yadav said. “The Mumbai-Ahmedabad work is already going on and we have already identified few more sections,” Yadav said, referring to the bullet train project.

Currently, the average maximum speed of trains on various routes is 99 kmph and the recently introduced Delhi-Varanasi Vande Bharat Express touches an average speed of 104 kmph on the Delhi-Kanpur section.

The cabinet earlier this year approved the plan for upgrading the speed on Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Howrah routes to 160 kmph, which would require an investment of around Rs 13,000 crores.

“Accordingly, we are positioning ourselves to manufacture coaches suitable for 160 kmph, suitable for 320 kmph for the future,” Yadav said.

“Our vision is to produce all these coaches in India, and therefore we are taking necessary steps required for modernisation of all our production units,” Yadav said.

Yadav added that the Indian Railways will look at multi-tracking on 34,000 route kilometres of high-density railway network over the next three to four years.

“We have decided we will go ahead, in a very focussed manner for multi-tracking,” Yadav said.

Apart from the eastern and western dedicated freight corridors (DFCs) which are to be sanctioned by December 2021, the national transporter has already began work on three more DFCs as it looks to decongest passenger train network.

Yadav said that after commissioning of DFC, Indian Railways’ existing network will be free to run passenger trains and the national transporter will be having enough capacity to introduce more passenger trains. “And therefore, we have decided and we are very soon going to start the bidding process for introduction of private train operators,” he added.

The Indian Railways has identified more routes for around 150 trains and the bidding process for selecting private train operators will begin soon, Yadav said.

The upgrade of infrastructure to operate trains at 160 kmph includes fencing, upgrade of track and signalling, and elimination of unmanned level-crossings, according to the Ministry of Railways.

The railways is in a “transformation mode” and “is in the process of modernisation”, Yadav said, adding that as part of this, the 68000-km broad-gauge track network will be electrified in the next three years.

He said at present, 28,000 km is electrified and for next year a target of 7,000 km has been set.

The railways will also implement a ‘multi-tracking’ project in the 34000 km ‘highly busy and utilised’ rail network in a phased manner. Additional tracks will be laid in these routes as nearly 96 per cent of the country’s trains ply there, the Railway Board chairman said.

On bio-toilets, Yadav said 95 per cent of rail coaches have environment-friendly washrooms and the rest will have it in the next two to three months.

Board Member (Rolling Stock) Rajesh Agarwal said 100 units of Vande Bharat Express (semi high speed inter-city electric multiple unit) will be manufactured in the next five years.

Similarly, the railways will produce more aluminium coaches. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is planning to review the railway projects, he said.

The board’s Additional Member (Mechanical) AK Agarwal said the railways is planning to upgrade on a massive scale passenger services and amenities, production of rolling stocks and capacity building.

An MoU was signed in the event between Ghana’s Railway Development Ministry and RITES for implementing the rail projects in that country. Ghana railway development minister Joe Ghartey was present. The Rail India Technical and Economic Service or RITES is an engineering consultancy company of the Railways.

CII Director-General Chandrajit Banerjee highlighted the importance of the exhibition when India is in the fast track of development.

The CII’s rail transportation and equipment division chairman Anand Chidambaram said this was Asia’s largest exhibition.