One of the largest rail network in the world — Indian Railways — is set to become one of the fastest too. The high-speed train corridor project will reduce the twelve and half hour train journey between Delhi-Patna and Pune-Ahmedabad by half as India’s own bullet trains will zoom at a maximum speed of 350 kmph.
While six such corridors were announced in the last railway budget, Pune-Ahmedabad and Delhi-Patna routes are expected to be launched ahead of the other four. “By 2020, we are expecting to start these two services,” a railway officer said.
The pre-feasibility report on Pune-Ahmedabad route has already arrived at Rail Bhawan. Top railway officials told HT that unlike the state-run railway service, private players will operate the high-speed network. “The fares will be at par with that of the budget airlines and would remain flexible depending on the demand,” said an official.Initially, the trains will run at every one hour. Gradually, the frequency may come down.
To make the modern transport system more accessible, terminals are likely to come at the heart of the chosen cities: Delhi’s Pragati Maidan, Mumbai’s Bandra-Kurla Complex and Kolkata’s Howrah station.
Each energy-efficient train, likely to be imported from Europe, would be able to carry around 1,000 passengers. “There will be two sitting classes like the Shatabdi Express. The trains can run automatically, but for passenger’ psychological reasons we will have drivers,” an official said.
While Spanish, French British and Italian firms are roped in for the pre-feasibility studies and Japan for financial help, China, which the largest high-speed network, has so far failed to win any bid.
The corridors will be insulated by concrete walls to stop human and animal intrusions. “A high speed train running at 300 kmph would require at least six kilometers to stop when brakes are applied. The track has to be guarded to avoid fatal loss,” said an official.
The railway has estimated a cost of R100 crore per km for this project while the cost of laying a broad gauge rail track is R8 crore/km.