Indian railways is adopting a multi pronged strategy to provide a safer, faster, cleaner, and more comfortable train experience to its passengers. 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 Public Private Partnership (PPP) route. A study is also being done on the Delhi-Mumbai route with help from the Japanese Government to raise the speed of passenger trains from 160 kmph to a semi-high speed at 200 kmph.
The proposed train sets will increase passenger carrying capacity; reduce run time between destinations and consume less energy
In addition, Indian Railways is working on acquiring Electrical Multiple Units (EMU) train sets for intercity journeys. The EMU train sets will have operating speeds ranging from 130-160 km/hour and the adoption of train sets technology was announced in this year’s railway budget. Indian Railways proposes to introduce modern EMU train sets for running premium Shatabdi and Rajdhani trains without any additional expenditure on existing track and signalling infrastructure.
The existing railway tracks on Rajdhani routes are fit for running trains up to a speed of 150 kmph, but the average speed of Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains is usually less than 90 kmph due to a large number of speed restrictions and the poor acceleration and deceleration characteristics of existing loco-haul trains. The EMU train sets will be free from these bottlenecks and provide faster and safer movement while substantially reducing 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 EMU train sets.
The proposed EMU train sets can have up to 21 coaches. EMU train sets are highly energy efficient and aerodynamically light weight.
Some of the advantages of EMU train sets over conventional loco-hauled trains operating at similar speeds are:
EMU Train sets have very high acceleration and deceleration due to which it takes them much lesser time in negotiating speed restrictions and achieving maximum permissible speed. Thus it is possible to reduce the run 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.
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.
Per passenger cost of EMU 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.