Railways minister Suresh Prabhu has approved a Rs 2,400-crore plan for the acquisition of 15 state-of-the-art Electrical Multiple Unit (EMU) train sets from European or Japanese vendors to enable a technological leap for India’s public transporter.
The first lot of these modern three-phase Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor (IGBT) technology train-sets, which do not have locomotives or power cars and are 25% more energy-efficient, are proposed to be run on five Shatabdi and 10 Rajdhani routes. At an average speed of 130 km/ph, these train-sets would reduce travel time on the Delhi-Howrah and Delhi-Mumbai routes by approximately three hours. Average speed of existing Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains is estimated at 90 km/ph.
A cabinet note seeking inclusion of the train-sets in the rolling stock programme of the upcoming rail budget identifies four options: Import of few train-sets of modern design with comfortable interiors; permitting private operators to run train-sets on select routes on a PPP basis; manufacturing train-set equipment at the state-owned rail coach factory at Kapurthala — or the firming up of MoUs with some governments for introduction of train-sets technology in India on a trial basis.
The Indian railways has received offers from the French and Swedish governments for the introduction of train-sets technology on a trial basis, sources said.
In a bid to achieve Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Make in India” goal, Prabhu has simultaneously proposed a cost-effective plan for the indigenous manufacture of traction equipment that can be mounted under the belly of the existing LHB-design coaches to convert them into distributed-power train-sets by modifying the nose profile of the driving car.
Costs of upgrading the LHB-design coaches into the aerodynamic design train-sets of 21 coaches is estimated at Rs 48 crore, as against the cost of `64 crore for the manufacture of conventionally-hauled diesel locomotive of 15 coaches.