Spanish firm Talgo will have to cross a number of hurdles before it can conduct trial runs at speeds between 160 and 200 kmph on the existing tracks on the Delhi–Mumbai route. A Western Railways official on Tuesday hinted that the trial runs won’t happen soon.
The official, who did not want to be identified, told Business Standard, “The approval from the commissioner of railway safety for speed more than 130 kmph (the speed at which Rajdhani operates) is mandatory. The commissioner, working under the the ministry of civil aviation, deals with matters pertaining to safety of rail travel and train operation and is charged with certain statutory functions laid down in the Railways Act (1989), which are of an inspectorial, investigatory and advisory nature.” Further, the official said for trial of high-speed trains on existing tracks a compound wall will be required so that entry of commuters and animals is prohibited.
|WHAT LIES AHEAD|
Talgo, along with the railways, will have to jointly conduct a detailed survey of the conditions of the track. Besides, the railway board’s approval is key for importing the rake.
KPMG in India director (Infrastructure and Government Services) Rajaji Meshram, however, told Business Standard, “For running high-speed trains both rolling stock and track need to be capable of handling the higher speeds. The rolling stock that the railways has is capable of running at 160 kmph. In the trial that was done from Delhi to Agra, a peak speed of 160 kmph was achieved in 2015. On the track side, to be capable of higher speeds, track maintenance standards need to be higher, level-crossing gates need to be eliminated, signalling technology needs upgradation. With the population density that India has, grade separation might be an inevitable requirement for building a high-speed line.”
According to Meshram, the Mumbai–Ahmedabad High-Speed Railway project being designed as a separate line will have standard gauge, not broad gauge. For ensuring passengers’ safety, a dedicated, grade separated railway line is the only solution in Indian conditions.
Further, PricewaterhouseCoopers Partner Leader (Infrastructure) Manish Agarwal said India will need a combination of separate High Speed Rail (like Mumbai-Ahmedabad), and higher speeds on existing tracks. “In addition to technical strengthening of existing tracks to handle higher speeds, it will also require more precise traffic management as trains of varying speed share the same track. Several trials, in varying conditions, may be needed,” he said.