The Indian Railways is considering increasing the speed of passenger trains between Mumbai and Delhi by 40 km per hour (kmph), from the existing 160 kmph to 200.
The first round of meetings to discuss the project, called the Golden Rail Corridor, began on Monday in Delhi, where official met a Japanese delegation. The next set of meetings is scheduled in Mumbai with Western Railway officials on July 14.
The Japanese government delegation will conduct a feasibility study for the upgradation of the speed of passenger trains on the existing 1,400-km Delhi-Mumbai corridor via Mathura, Kota, Ratlam, Vadodara and Surat.
The possibilities are being discussed only a day after the country saw a horrific rail accident that has killed 70 people and injured at least 350 people.
Sources said the main concern was the safe running of these high-speed trains. “We are discussing the safety issues related to running such high-speed corridors, on the backdrop of the accident in Uttar Pradesh. The Japanese delegation says they have technical solutions for tackling this issue,” said a railway official, on condition of anonymity.
Rising train accidents across the country in the recent past had put the proposal on the backburner.
“We have the ability to increase the speed of the trains, but the safety aspect needs to be considered before we go ahead,” said another official, who said that the impact of an accident increases multifold if the speed is augmented even by a mere 10 kmph.
Railway officials believe that simply fencing tracks with concrete wall will not ensure complete safety. Also, often cattle and herds of elephants cross the tracks, leading to accidents and derailments. The Japanese delegation is considering all these issues before putting forth a recommendation.
The delegation will also conduct a field study of the 1,400-km corridor. Mamata Banerjee, when she was the Union railway minister, had announced that the pre-feasibility study for the western leg of the Golden Rail Corridor would start early next year.