High-speed rail in India

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India does not have any railways classified as high-speed rail (HSR), which have operational speeds in excess of 200 km/h.[1] The fastest train in India is the Gatimaan Express with a top speed of 160 km/h,[2][3] which runs between Delhi and Agra.[4]

Prior to the 2014 general election, the two major national parties (Bharatiya Janata Party and Indian National Congress(INC)) pledged to introduce high-speed rail. The INC pledged to connect all of India's million-plus cities by high-speed rail,[5] whereas BJP, which won the election, promised to build the Diamond Quadrilateral project, which would connect the cities of Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata, and Mumbai via high-speed rail.[6] This project was approved as a priority for the new government in the incoming president's speech.[7] Construction of one kilometer of high speed railway track will cost Rs. 100-140 crore which is 10-14 times higher than the construction of standard railway.[8]

India's prime minister Narendra Modi approved the choice of Japan to build India's first high-speed railway. The planned rail would run some 500 kilometres (310 mi) between Maharashtra capital Mumbai and the western city of Ahmedabad, at a top speed of 320 km/h.[9][10] Under the proposal, construction is expected to begin in 2017 and be completed in 2023. It would cost about 980 billion (US$15 billion) and be financed by a low-interest loan from Japan.[11] India will use the wheel-based 300 km/hr HSR technology, instead of new maglev 600 km/hr technology of the Japan used in Chūō Shinkansen. India is expected to have its HSR line operational from 2025 onwards, once the safety checks are completed.

Current effort to increase speed to 160-200 km/h[edit]

Indian Railways aims to increase the speed of passenger trains to 160–200 km/h on dedicated conventional tracks. They intend to improve their existing conventional lines to handle speeds of up to 160 km/h, with a goal of speeds above 200 km/h on new tracks with improved technology.[12]

In February 2014, Henri Poupart-Lafarge of Alstom, manufacturer of trains used on TGV in France, stated that India is at least 5–10 years away from high-speed trains. He suggested the country should first upgrade the infrastructure to handle trains travelling 100 to 120 km/hr.[13]

In July 2014, a trial run of a "semi-high speed train" with 10 coaches and 2 generators reached a speed of 160 km/h between New Delhi and Agra. The train, named Gatimaan Express, had its first commercial run at 5 April 2016.It is expected to reach the maximum speed of 160 kmph and an average speed of 113 kmph.[14]

Dedicated Freight Corridors

Initially the trains will have the maximum speed of 160 km/h, with railway coaches which can run at the speed of 200 km/h will be rolled out from Railway Coach Factory of Indian Railway from June, 2015.[15]

Current Semi-high speed systems[edit]

The inauguration of the Gatimaan Express by Railway Minister Mr. Suresh Prabhu on 5 April 2016 ushered the beginning of semi-high speed trains in India. The Gatimaan Express runs at the top speed of 160 km/hr from Delhi to Agra. With the great success of Gatimaan Express, the Indian Railways plans to start additional semi-high speed services along the Delhi - Bhopal / Chandigarh / Kanpur / Lucknow routes shortly.[16][17] Railway minister Mr Sadananda Gowda mentioned in his Rail budget 2014 speech that the railways are going to start high speed trains at 160–200 km/h on 9 routes.[18] But as of 2016, no semi-high speed trains are running in India which are at the mid or high-end of 160-200 kmph range.

Chennai-Bangalore-Mysore section has been studied by Chinese and German engineers to increase the speed of the existing line to 200 kmph. Germany is still has to complete the feasibility study on the section, where as China has completed the study. Chinese engineers have suggested the measures to be implemented in the existing railway track to increase the speed of the trains running in existing line to 200 kmph.

India uses Broad-gauge the only other country which has the major broad-gauge R&D and manufacturing facility is Spain. During the trial run in Delhi-Mumbai route Spain's Talgo trains have reached a peak speed of 150 kmph, observing laid-down speed cautions and halting at the usual stoppages as the Mumbai Rajdhani, Talgo clocked an average speed of 117.5 kmph to cover the distance. The Mumbai Rajdhani clocks 15 hours, 50 minutes at an average 87.7 kmph.

Green background for the systems that are under construction. Blue background for the systems that are currently in planning.

Semi High-Speed Corridor Speed Track gauge (mm) Distance (km) Time reduced Operations per day Start Operations Status
Delhi - Agra 160 km/h 1676 195 30 min Inaugurated on 5 April 2016
Chennai - Hyderabad 160 km/h 1676 915 Approved in 2014 Railway Budget
Delhi - Chandigarh 160 km/h 1676 244 Approved in 2014 Railway Budget
Delhi - Kanpur 160 km/h 1676 441 Approved in 2014 Railway Budget
Mumbai - Ahmedabad 160 km/h 1676 493 Approved in 2014 Railway Budget
Mumbai - Goa 160 km/h 1676 606 Approved in 2014 Railway Budget
Mysuru - Bengaluru - Chennai 160 km/h 1676 495 Approved in 2014 Railway Budget
Nagpur -Raipur - Bilaspur 160 km/h 1676 413 Approved in 2014 Railway Budget
Nagpur - Secunderabad 160 km/h 1676 575 Approved in 2014 Railway Budget
Visakhapatnam - Bhubaneswar 160 km/h 1676 444 Approved in 2014 Railway Budget


India's quest to run rails at the 160 km/h has its own critics. Critics point out that Delhi-Agra time savings are not based on the speed of train but based on other factors.

Critics point out that the reduction in travel time due to speed is a mere three minutes, and other manoeuvrings are largely responsible for the drastic drop. Reduction of timing largely because of shifting the train's departure point from New Delhi railway station to Hazrat Nizamuddin and doing away with the scheduled stop at Mathura reportedly account for a saving of 14 minutes, limiting the locomotive to 10 coaches – Bhopal Shatabdi has 14 – leads to a decrement of another two minutes, approximately five minutes are being saved on account of track improvements and superior infrastructure, three minutes owing to route relay interlocking at Agra, and one minute each on approval to run a passenger train on the third line at Palwal and Bhuteshwar, installation of thick web switches at four points and in putting up a track station at Chhata.[19]

But, India is not targeting lower end of 160–200 km/h speed of semi-high speed trains. So, focus is to achieve 180 km/h not the 160 km/h.

There is serious question raised about the safety of the passengers as the infrastructure on which semi-high speed trains are running may not be able to run at such high speeds, for example it is preferred to run these trains on 60 kilogram tracks but now they are running on 52 kilogram tracks.[20]

There are multiple railway projects which are in different stages of implementation like doubling of tracks, electrification, new track laying, changing of gauge etc. But Indian railways has not come up with any guidelines to channelize all current and new efforts to run trains at semi-high speed.

Proposal to introduce 300-350 km/h trains[edit]


One of the first proposals to introduce high-speed trains in India was mooted in the mid-1980s by then Railway Minister Madhavrao Scindia. A high-speed rail line between Delhi and Kanpur via Agra was proposed. An internal study found the proposal not to be viable at that time due to the high cost of construction and inability of travelling passengers to bear much higher fares than those for normal trains. The railways instead introduced Shatabdi trains which ran at 130 km/h.[21]

The Indian Ministry of Railways' white-paper "Vision 2020",[12] submitted to Indian Parliament on 18 December 2009,[22] envisages the implementation of regional high-speed rail projects to provide services at 250–350 km/h, and planning for corridors connecting commercial, tourist, and pilgrimage hubs. Six corridors have been identified for technical studies on setting up of high-speed rail corridors: DelhiChandigarhAmritsar, Pune-Mumbai-Ahmedabad, Hyderabad-Kazipet-Dornakal-Vijayawada-Chennai, HowrahHaldia, Chennai-Bangalore-Coimbatore-Kochi-Thiruvananthapuram, Delhi-Agra-Lucknow-Varanasi-Patna. These high-speed rail corridors will be built as elevated corridors.

Ministry of Railways has set-up the National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited as a government company on 12 February 2016 to promote high speed rail corridors.

RVNL set up a corporation called High Speed Rail Corporation of India Ltd (HSRC) on 25 July 2013, that will deal with the proposed high-speed rail corridor projects. The corporation is a wholly owned subsidiary of Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd. (RVNL).[23][24] It will handle tendering, pre-feasibility studies, awarding contracts, and execution of the projects.[25] The corporation will comprise four members, all of whom will be railway officials.[26] All high-speed rail lines will be implemented as public–private partnerships on a Design, Build, Finance, Operate, and Transfer (DBFOT) basis.[27] The corporation was officially formed on 29 October 2013.[28]


In a feasibility study published in 1987, RDSO and JICA estimated the construction cost to be Rs 49 million per km, for a line dedicated to 250–300 km/h trains. In 2010, that 1987-estimated cost, inflated at 10% a year, would be Rs 439 million per km (US$9.5 million/km).[29] RITES is currently performing a feasibility study.[30]

According to news media, the costs for constructing such rail lines in India are estimated to be Rs 700-1000 million per km (US$15–22 million/km). Therefore, the Mumbai-Ahmedabad route of 500 km, will cost Rs 1 billion (US$8.04 billion) to build and to make a profit, passengers will have to be charged Rs 5 per km (US$0.11/km). Delhi to Amritsar one-way, a distance of 450 km, will cost about Rs 2000 (US$43.48).[31] At US$15–22 million per km, cost estimates are in line with US$18 million per km of the recently completed Wuhan-Guangzhou HSR line in China.

The Mumbai - Ahmedabad line is expected to cost Rs 650 billion.[28]


Potential High Speed Rail lines[32][33]

In India, trains in the future with top speeds of 300–350 km/h, are envisaged to run on elevated corridors to isolate high-speed train tracks and thereby prevent trespassing by animals and people.

The current conventional lines between Amritsar-New Delhi, and Ahmedabad-Mumbai runs through suburban and rural areas, which are flat and have no tunnels. Ahmedabad-Mumbai line runs near the coast therefore have more bridges, and parts of it are in backwaters or forest. The 1987 RDSO/JICA feasibility study found the Mumbai-Ahmedabad line as most promising.[29]

Maharashtra state government has proposed a link between Mumbai and Nagpur. The government also wants a corridor to connect to Navi Mumbai International Airport.[34]

High-Speed Corridor Route Track gauge Stations Speed Length (km) Further Extension Status
Diamond Quadrilateral Delhi - Mumbai - Chennai - Kolkata - Delhi 1676 TBA 250 - 350 6,500 - 7,000 No Extension Approved in Rail budget 2014
East India
Howrah - Haldia High-Speed Passenger Corridor Howrah-Haldia 1676 TBD 250-300 135 TBD Approved by Planning Commission & PMO
North India
Delhi - Kolkata High-Speed Passenger Corridor Delhi-Agra-Kanpur-Lucknow-Varanasi-Patna-Kolkata 1676 TBD 200 - 350 991 Howrah Approved by Planning Commission & PMO
Delhi - Amritsar High-Speed Passenger Corridor Delhi-Chandigarh-Amritsar 1676 TBD 450 TBD Approved by Planning Commission & PMO
Delhi - Jodhpur High-Speed Passenger Corridor[35] Delhi-Jaipur-Ajmer-Jodhpur 1676 TBD 591 TBD Proposed
West India
Ahmedabad - Dwarka High-Speed Passenger Corridor Ahmedabad - Rajkot - Jamnagar - Dwarka 1676 TBD TBD
Mumbai/Navi Mumbai - Nagpur High-Speed Passenger Corridor Mumbai/Navi Mumbai - Nashik - Akola - Nagpur 1676 TBA TBA Proposed
Mumbai–Ahmedabad high-speed passenger corridor Mumbai-Ahmedabad 1676 11 320 534 Currently under construction
Rajkot - Veraval High-Speed Passenger Corridor Rajkot - Junagadh - Veraval 1676 TBD 350 TBD
South India
Hyderabad - Chennai High-Speed Passenger Corridor Hyderabad-Kazipet-Dornakal-Vijayawada-Chennai 1676 TBD 664 Howrah(Via Visakhapatnam) Approved by Planning Commission & PMO
Chennai - Thiruvananthapuram High-Speed Passenger Corridor Chennai-Bengaluru- Coimbatore - Kochi - Thiruvananthapuram TBD 350 850 Approved by Planning Commission & PMO
Chennai - Kanniyakumari High-Speed Passenger Corridor Chennai-Tiruchirappalli - Madurai - Tirunelveli - Kanniyakumari TBD 350 850 Waiting for Approval from Planning Commission & PMO
Thiruvananthapuram–Mangalore high-speed passenger corridor Thiruvananthapuram - Mangaluru 1676 9 300 585 Udupi High Speed Rail Corridor Survey by DMRC in Progress by Kerala government (Not listed by High Speed Rail Corporation of India Limited (HSRC)) [36]

Approved by Planning Commission & PMO

Bengaluru - Mysuru High-Speed Passenger Corridor[37] Bengaluru - Mysuru TBD 350 110 Not planned Approved in Rail budget 2014

Project execution[edit]

To put the construction in perspective, in the period 2005-09 Indian Railways took on construction of 42 completely new conventional lines, a total of 4060 km at a cost of Rs 167 billion (US$3.63 billion),[38] or Rs 41 million per km (US$0.89 million/km).[12] A public-private-partnership mode of investment and execution is envisaged the 250–350 km/h high-speed rail project.[12]

Feasibility studies[edit]

Multiple pre-feasibility and feasibility studies have been done or are in progress.

The consultants for pre-feasibility study for four corridors are:[39]

In September 2013, an agreement was signed in New Delhi to complete a feasibility study of high-speed rail between Ahmedabad and Mumbai, within 18 months.[40] The study will cost ¥500 million[41] and the cost will be shared 50:50 by Japan and India.[40]

Location of the station, its accessibility, integration with public transport, parking and railway stations design[42] play an important role in the success of the high speed rail. Mumbai may have underground corridor to have high speed rail start from the CST terminal.[43] European experiences have shown that railway stations outside the city receive less patronage and ultimately making the high speed railway line unfeasible.[citation needed]

High Speed Rail Corporation has called for international bidders for carrying out a pre-feasibility study of the 450-km Delhi - Chandigarh - Amritsar High Speed Corridor.[citation needed]

Speed of trains[edit]

Type of Train Operational Speed Average Speed Government Approval Indigenous Production Manufacturers/Operators
Super Speed 500 – 550 km/h
(Max. Speed 603 km/h)
450 km/h NO NO JR Central(Japan), Transrapid(Germany)
High Speed 250 – 350 km/h 200 km/h Yes[44] NO Shinkansen Japan, AGV France, Velaro/Zefiro/ICx Germany and CRH China
Semi-High Speed 160 – 200 km/h 110 km/h Yes
(Only max. 160 km/h is allowed for operation in India)
YES WAP-5 locomotives, Kapurthala Rail Coach Factory (Indian, max. speed of 160 km/h)
Express Trains 120 – 140 km/h 70 – 90 km/h Already in operation YES WAP-5, WAP-7 and LHB coaches of Indian Railways
Passenger 90 – 110 km/h 40 – 60 km/h Already in operation YES WAP4,WDP4,B,D & Rail Coach Factory of Indian Railway

Diamond Quadrilateral project[edit]

Further information: Diamond Quadrilateral

The Diamond Quadrilateral high speed network connecting the four major cities of Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata, and Mumbai was a key plank in the BJP's election manifesto.[45][46] PM Modi mentioned in his address to the joint session of Parliament on 9 June 2014 that the new Government was committing to launch the project.[47]

Ultra-high-speed rail[edit]

Indian Railways is exploring the possibility of an ultra-high-speed rail network in India. The Railway Minister's vision is to make rolling stock the driver for India's shift from being a technology importer and manufacturer to becoming a developer and designer for future rolling-stock technology.[48]

Indian Railways announced a seminar with ultra-high-speed train manufacturers to explore the possibility of introducing an ultra-high-speed train system on a public–private partnership basis.[49] The corporation has issued an Expression of Interest (EOI) to global investors to implement an over-500-kilometre-per-hour (310 mph) rail system. Transport infrastructure (including stations, platforms, tracks, signal systems, fare structures and timetables) would be developed by private firms; Indian Railways would handle land-related issues, and revenue would be shared.[50] The new railway system, parallel to the current one, should support passenger and freight traffic.[citation needed]

Japan, China, South Korea and Germany have built such systems, and other countries are conducting research projects on implementing futuristic railway systems. China is building new Metro maglev systems to reduce travel time. Beijing Maglev, Changsha Maglev, Shanghai Maglev, Incheon Airport Maglev and Linimo are examples of maglev intracity trains. In October 2016, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said that six global companies had expressed interest and Indian Railways was building tracks to test trains at speeds of over 400 kilometres per hour (250 mph).[51]

R&D institutions[edit]

India does not have indigenous high-speed or super-speed railway technology. It is currently dependent on other countries. In a campaign promise made in January 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised to build four railway universities so that India can be a world leader in high-speed railway technology.[52]

Manufacturing base[edit]

A manufacturing base will be constructed for production of high speed trains in India. The project will be executed on PPP basis, though no formal announcement has been made yet, as the project is still in planning stages, and is yet to be executed.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1][dead link]
  2. ^ http://indiarailinfo.com/train/timetable/gatimaan-express-12049-agc-to-nzm/28625/450/748
  3. ^ India's fastest train completes final test run in record time - Times of India
  4. ^ http://www.railwaygazette.com/news/passenger/single-view/view/india-launches-first-160-kmh-semi-high-speed-train.html
  5. ^ INC Manifesto - infrastructure Archived 2 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ BJP Manifesto 2014
  7. ^ Diamond quadrilateral of high-speed trains - A Dastidar, Indian Express, 10 June 2014
  8. ^ Lok Sabha 16 March 2015
  9. ^ India to sign deal with Japan to get first bullet train - The Hindu
  10. ^ Japan's High-Speed Rail Breakthrough | The Diplomat
  11. ^ India Said to Pick Japan for High-Speed Rail Project - WSJ
  12. ^ a b c d "Indian Railways: Vision 2020" (PDF). Indian Railways. December 2009. Retrieved 29 November 2014. 
  13. ^ Sood, Varun (1 March 2014). "High-speed trains in India viable after 10 years' - Economic Times". Times Internet. Economic Times. Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  14. ^ "Delhi-Agra semi-high speed train to be named Gatimaan Express". PTI. The Hindu. 12 October 2014. Retrieved 13 October 2014. 
  15. ^ First high speed train on Delhi-Agra section on 10 November - timesofindia-economictimes
  16. ^ Railways coerrorsmpletes pilot project for semi-high-speed train
  17. ^ Indian Railways To Launch Semi High Speed Bullet Trains On Three Routes
  18. ^ Rail Budget 2014: Nine routes on which bullet trains, network of high speed rail proposed
  19. ^ Delhi-Agra in 90 min, but is India's fastest train just a bluff? | india | Hindustan Times
  20. ^ Railway bending rules, standards for PM Modi's plan | india | Hindustan Times
  21. ^ High Speed Railways in India: imperative for current times - IBNLive
  22. ^ India getting ready for bullet trains - Central Chronicle Archived 17 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  23. ^ Indian Railways finally moving on its dream project — high-speed trains - timesofindia-economictimes
  24. ^ [2] Archived 22 August 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  25. ^ AP: India – Railways sets up corp for bullet train | Daily News | PFIe
  26. ^ Railways to set up corporation to focus on bullet train project | Zee News
  27. ^ Indian high-speed project moves forward | International Railway Journal
  28. ^ a b High Speed Rail Corp of India launched - Railway Gazette
  30. ^ "Bullet train: Rlys studying feasibility report -". The Times of India. 22 February 2010. 
  31. ^ "Runaway Train. High-speed trains could be the Indian Railways' answer to low-cost airlines". Forbes India. 5 November 2009. 
  32. ^ "Indian Railways: Vision 2020" (PDF). Indian Railways. December 2009. Retrieved 29 December 2014. 
  33. ^ Dedicated Freight Corridors & High Speed Rails, India's Ultra Low Carbon Mega Rail Projects - Anjali Goyal, Executive Director (Budget), India
  34. ^ State requests ‘bullet train’ from Mumbai to Nagpur
  35. ^ "Rail Budget 2012: High speed trains may be introduced". www.daily.bhaskar.com. Retrieved 2012-07-24. 
  36. ^ Survey of High-speed Rail Corridor 60 pc Over- The New Indian Express
  37. ^ Bengaluru, 16 February 2012, DHNS: (2012-02-16). "HSRL to Mysuru under consideration". Deccanherald.com. Retrieved 2012-07-24. 
  38. ^ White Paper on Indian Railways - December 2009, Government of India Ministry of Railways[dead link]
  39. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20120116102549/http://punjabnewsline.com/~punjabne/content/india-holds-talks-japan-high-speed-train-corridors/35473. Archived from the original on 16 January 2012. Retrieved 2 February 2012.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  40. ^ a b India, Japan sign MoU for feasibility study of high speed railway system in India
  41. ^ Feasibility study for Mumbai - Ahmedabad high speed line agreed - Railway Gazette
  42. ^ [3] Archived 12 October 2014 at the Wayback Machine.
  43. ^ Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train? Chinese team visits CST | The Indian Express
  44. ^ Japan's High-Speed Rail Breakthrough | The Diplomat
  45. ^ Powering a high-speed dream - Sanjib Kumar Das, Gulf News
  46. ^ New Indian government moots high-speed rail network, Chris Sleight, KHL
  47. ^ "Address by The President of India to the Joint sitting of Parliament 2014" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 9 June 2014. 
  48. ^ "Mission 350 Plus: Railways To Explore Levitation Technology". ndtv.com. Retrieved 2 January 2017. 
  49. ^ "Hyperloop One, Maglev may take part in the railways' ultra-high speed technology meet - Infracircle". 2016-08-19. Retrieved 2016-09-01. 
  50. ^ Jacob, Shine. "Railways to float EOI for ultra high speed trains". Retrieved 2016-09-01. 
  51. ^ "6 top players keen to develop ultra high-speed trains: Prabhu - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 15 October 2016. 
  52. ^ "Modivision for new India: 100 smart cities, bullet trains, national gas grid & more". VCCircle. 20 January 2014. Retrieved 18 September 2014. 

External links[edit]