With an aim to make inter-city travel faster, the Indian Railways is planning to construct 10,000 km of new high speed corridors to run trains at the speed of 200-250 kmph. Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has asked the Railway Board to identify the corridors and work on cutting the cost of construction by less than half, the Times of India today reported.
The report said that the Minister may announce the plan sometime in April. "The plan is to ensure that the train reaches the destination at a time that gives the traveller enough time to attend office after reaching home," TOI quoted an official as saying.
According to the report, the Railways is exploring the options such as building single pillar, two track corridors on top of national highways or building them on existing railway land to bring down the cost of construction of high speed tracks. If the plan succeeds, the government may not have to shell money on land acquisition, thereby bringing down the construction cost by almost half. The Railways is also considering the possibility of constructing high-speed train corridors for shorter routes where it could offer better alternative to airlines, the report said.
Currently, the fastest train in India is Gatiman Express which runs at a speed of 160kmph. Launched in 2016, this runs between H Nizamuddin to Agra. Prior to Gatimaan, Rajdhani and Shatabdi were the fastest trains in India. The government in the last couple of years has taken multiple initiatives to make passengers' train journey faster and smoother.
Last year in September, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe laid the foundation stone for the country's first high-speed rail project between Mumbai and Ahmedabad. India is expected to run first bullet train sometime in 2022.
But before 2022, Indian Railways is reportedly planning to introduce semi high-speed trains that will replace Rajdhani and Shatabdi. According to reports, Indian Railways is developing two trains - codenamed as: Train 18 and Train 20 - at the Chennai-based Integral Coach Factory and the first train is expected to be rolled out in June. Train 18 is said to run at a top speed of 160 kmph. Another train set called Train 20 is expected to follow in 2020, to replace the Rajdhani trains plying on longer routes. The only difference between these new trains is that Train 20 will have an aluminium body while Train 18 will have stainless steel body.
According to a study, Indian Railways will be able to cut travel time by three hours and thirty-five minutes on the 1,440-km Delhi-Howrah route with this new train set. Given that the calculation factored a maximum permissible speed of 130 kmph, travel time could come down further if the permissible speed limit is raised to 160 kmph.