The railways will implement a Rs 18000-crore project to operate trains at a speed of 160 kmph on the busy Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Kolkata routes by upgrading infrastructure, Railway Board Chairman V K Yadav said on Tuesday. Once the project begins, it will take at least four years to complete, he said after inaugurating the International Rail Conference-2019 and the 13th International Railway Equipment Exhibition.
The events have been organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in association with the Railways at Aerocity here. The railways’ target is to operate high speed trains in two categories—at 160 kmph on the Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Kolkata routes, and up to 320 kmph under the ongoing bullet train project between Mumbai-Ahmedabad.
Currently, the average maximum speed of trains on various routes is 99 kmph and the recently introduced Delhi-Varanasi Vande Bharat Express touches an average speed of 104 kmph on the Delhi-Kanpur section. The upgrade of infrastructure to operate trains at 160 kmph includes fencing, upgrade of track and signalling, and elimination of unmanned level-crossings, according to the Railway Ministry.
The railways is in a “transformation mode” and “is in the process of modernisation”, Yadav said, adding that as part of this, the 68000-km broad-gauge track network will be electrified in the next three years. He said at present, 28000 km is electrified and for next year a target of 7000 km has been set.
The railways will also implement a ‘multi-tracking’ project in the 34000 km ‘highly busy and utilised’ rail network in a phased manner. Additional tracks will be laid in these routes as nearly 96 per cent of the country’s trains ply there, the railway board chairman said. On bio-toilets, Yadav said 95 per cent of rail coaches have environment-friendly washrooms and the rest will have it in the next two to three months.
Board Member (Rolling Stock) Rajesh Agarwal said 100 units of Vande Bharat Express (semi high speed inter-city electric multiple unit) will be manufactured in the next five years. Similarly, the railways will produce more aluminium coaches. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is planning to review the railway projects, he said.
The board’s Additional Member (Mechanical) A K Agarwal said the railways is planning to upgrade on a massive scale passenger services and amenities, production of rolling stocks and capacity building. An MoU was signed in the event between Ghana’s Railway Development Ministry and RITES for implementing the rail projects in that country. Ghana railway development minister Joe Ghartey was present.
The Rail India Technical and Economic Service) or RITES is an engineering consultancy company of the Railways. CII Director-General Chandrajit Banerjee highlighted the importance of the exhibition when India is in the fast track of development. The CII’s rail transportation and equipment division chairman Anand Chidambaram said this was Asia’s largest exhibition.