Indian Railways is adopting a multi pronged strategy to provide a safer, faster, cleaner, and comfortable passenger trains. As announced in the budget, seven corridors have been identified for conducting pre feasibility studies for running high speed trains(popularly referred as Bullet trains) at speeds above 350 kmph. These corridors will be set up through PPP route. A study is also being done on Delhi Mumbai route with Japanese help to raise the speed of passenger trains from 160 kmph to 200 kmph being referred to as Semi-High Speed.
In addition, Indian Railways is working on the concept of acquiring Electrical Multiple Units (EMU) Train sets for intercity journeys for operating speed ranging from 130-160 km/hour. The adoption of train sets technology was announced in this year’s Railway Budget also. Indian Railways proposes to introduce in near future such modern EMU train Sets designed for operations at maximum speed of 130 kmph/150 kmph for running premium Shatabdi/Rajdhani trains, without any additional expenditure on existing track and signalling infrastructure. Existing Railway track on Rajdhani route is fit for running trains up to a speed of 150 kmph, but average speeds of Rajdhani/Shatabdi trains is less than 90 kmph due to large number of speed restrictions and poor acceleration and deceleration characteristics of existing loco hauled trains. The proposed modern distributed powered EMU train sets will be free from these bottlenecks and provide faster and safer movement and will substantially reduce run time. The plan is also in line with the international trend wherein most advanced countries in the world have progressively switched over its locomotive hauled conventional intercity trains to distributed powered Electrical Multiple Train sets.
The proposed EMU Train sets may consist of 21 cars (coaches). EMU Train sets are highly energy efficient, aerodynamically designed light weight, distributed powered trains with driving cabs at both ends like suburban trains and have following advantages over conventional loco hauled trains operating at similar speeds:
Propulsion equipment is mounted on the coaches, hence locomotives and Power cars in conventional loco hauled trains get replaced by additional passenger coaches in train sets, thereby increasing the passenger carrying capacity by 25-30% for the same length of a train.
EMU Train sets have very high acceleration and deceleration due to which it takes much less time in negotiating speed restrictions and achieving maximum permissible speed and it is possible to reduce the rune time between Howrah and New Delhi by 2.5 to 3.0 hours by operating train sets at existing speed of 130 kmph without any additional expenditure on track and other infrastructure.
Train sets provide improved safety due to reduced braking distance because of higher deceleration caused by regenerative and electro-pneumatic braking and cause very less wear and tear to the track due to its light weight. Distributed powering also reduces jerks.
Modern train sets are eco friendly, noiseless, consume 30% less energy and do not pollute the environment as in case of conventional loco hauled trains with diesel power cars.
Train sets are equipped with the three phase modern IGBT technology and require very less maintenance. Further with cabs at both ends, turn round time required at terminal stations is less than 15 minutes, leading to improved utilization. A train set can do extra trip/day for inter city travel like Delhi-Chandigarh, Delhi-Amritsar or Mumbai-Ahmedabad.
Per passenger cost of train sets is only marginally higher (at approximately Rs. 200 crore per train set of 21 cars) as compared to conventional loco hauled trains for speeds up to 130 kmph/150 kmph and that too gets returned in less than 3 years owing to high rate of return due to substantial increase in revenue because of extra carrying capacity, better utilization and higher energy efficiency.
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