In a step towards realisation of India’s bullet train dreams, the Railways began trials of the Spanish Talgo train between Bareilly and Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh on Sunday.
“The train with Talgo coaches left Bareilly Junction railway station at 0905 hrs for Moradabad,” said Nikhil Pandey, divisional rail magistrate, Izzatnagar Divison of North Eastern Railways. “The train will be tested on maximum speed of 115 kmph during the run.”
Two teams of engineers — one each from Talgo and the Research Design and Standards Organisation, Lucknow, headed by executive director (testing) Md Hamid Akhtar — were onboard the train on its first journey. The train will make two rounds and cover a distance of 400 kilometres.
“The engineering teams will submit the data collected during the trial run in its report to the rail ministry. The ministry will take the final decision about the success of the trial,” said an official.
The train has 11 elements, including nine Talgo coaches and two indigenous diesel engines. The nine-coach Talgo train comprises two executive class cars, four chair cars, a cafeteria, a power car and a tail-end coach for staff and equipment.
Four separate cabin crew teams, including two drivers, and two teams of the Railway Protection Force were deployed for the test. To simulate practical conditions, 324 sandbags were used in place of actual passengers inside the coaches.
Pandey said the Bareilly-Moradabad route was chosen due to the presence of a modern workshop at Izzatnagar. “The workshop was used by the engineers to alter the train for the speed trials and is being used as base by them,” he said.
The trial run on the 90-km line between Bareilly and Moradabad will continue for two weeks, after which it will be tested on the Rajdhani route between Mathura and Palwal for 40 days at speeds up to 180 km per hour, a senior railway ministry official involved with the trial said.
The third trial will be between Delhi and Mumbai, for two weeks.
The Delhi-Mumbai Rajdhani Express runs at an average speed of 85 km per hour while the Talgo train can maintain an average speed of 125 km per hour. Talgo envisages the journey between Delhi and Mumbai can be completed in about 12 hours as compared to 17 hours at present.
Besides reducing travel time, Talgo’s lighter trains consume 30% less energy.
After the completion of the first round of trials by June-end, the second lot of 30 Talgo coaches will be shipped to India, another official said.
The Japan International Cooperation Agency in a report submitted last year on the feasibility of a bullet train service between Mumbai and Ahmedabad estimated a substantial initial cost towards improving signalling systems and strengthening tracks in India, but the Spanish company claims 160 kmph can be achieved without such upgrades.
Talgo, a Spanish company that specialises in high-speed and semi-high speed trains, provided the coaches for trial on its own cost. The coaches were shipped from Spain to Mumbai earlier this year and transported to Izzatnagar diesel workshop in Bareilly on May 18 to be tweaked to suite Indian conditions.
Talgo coaches are lightweight and designed to run on curves without decelerating. They have wheels mounted in pairs but are not joined to the axle and the bogeys are shared among a set of coaches, and are equipped with anti-overturn and anti-override technologies.
These trials are part of Railways minister Suresh Prabhu’s attempt to ramp up speeds of passenger trains, which have largely been stagnant for decades. India’s first semi-high speed train, Gatimaan Express, clocks 160 kmph and was launched on the Delhi-Agra route last month.
The Railways also recently set up a Mobility Directorate to work on strategies to increase train speeds.
With agency inputs