High-speed rail in India
India does not have any railways classified as high-speed rail (HSR), which have operational speeds in excess of 200 km/h (120 mph). The fastest train in India is the Gatimaan Express with a top speed of 160 km/h (99 mph), which runs between Delhi and Agra.
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, 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. This project was approved as a priority for the new government in the incoming president's speech. Construction of one kilometer of high speed railway track will cost ₹100 crore (US$16 million) - ₹140 crore (US$22 million) which is 10-14 times higher than the construction of standard railway.
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 km (310 mi) between Mumbai and the western city of Ahmedabad, at a top speed of 320 km/h (200 mph). 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. 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.
- 1 Current effort to increase speed to 160-200 km/h
- 2 Progress in introduction of 300-350 km/h trains
- 3 Proposal to introduce 500 - 550 km/h trains
- 4 R&D institutions
- 5 Manufacturing base
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Current effort to increase speed to 160-200 km/h
Indian Railways aims to increase the speed of passenger trains to 160–200 km/h (99–124 mph) on dedicated conventional tracks. They intend to improve their existing conventional lines to handle speeds of up to 160 km/h (99 mph), with a goal of speeds above 200 km/h (120 mph) on new tracks with improved technology.
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 100–120 km/h (62–75 mph).
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 (99 mph) 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 km/h (70 mph).
Initially the trains will have the maximum speed of 160 km/h (99 mph), with railway coaches which can run at the speed of 200 km/h (120 mph) will be rolled out from Railway Coach Factory of Indian Railway from June, 2015.
Current Semi-high speed systems
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. 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 (99–124 mph) on 9 routes. But as of 2016, no semi-high speed trains are running in India which are at the mid or high-end of 160–200 kph range.
Chennai-Bangalore-Mysore section has been studied by Chinese and German engineers to increase the speed of the existing line to 200 km/h (120 mph). Germany still has to complete the feasibility study on the section, whereas China has completed the study. Chinese engineers have suggested measures to be implemented in the existing railway track to increase the speed of the trains running in existing line to 200 kph.
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 km/h (93 mph), observing laid-down speed cautions and halting at the usual stoppages as the Mumbai Rajdhani, Talgo clocked an average speed of 117.5 km/h (73.0 mph) to cover the distance. The Mumbai Rajdhani clocks 15 hours, 50 minutes at an average 87.7 km/h (54.5 mph).
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||Time reduced||Operations per day||Start Operations||Status|
|Mumbai - Goa||200 km/h (120 mph)||1676||579 km (360 mi)||Inaugurated on May 22th, 2017|
|Delhi - Agra||160 km/h (99 mph)||1676||195 km (121 mi)||30 min||Inaugurated on April 5th, 2016|
|Chennai - Hyderabad||160 km/h (99 mph)||1676||915 km (569 mi)||Approved in 2014 Railway Budget|
|Delhi - Chandigarh||200 km/h (120 mph)||1676||244 km (152 mi)||Approved in 2014 Railway Budget|
|Delhi - Kanpur||200 km/h (120 mph)||1676||441 km (274 mi)||Approved in 2014 Railway Budget|
|Mumbai - Ahmedabad||200 km/h (120 mph)||1676||493 km (306 mi)||Approved in 2014 Railway Budget|
|Mumbai - Goa||160 km/h (99 mph)||1676||606 km (377 mi)||Approved in 2014 Railway Budget|
|Mysuru - Bengaluru - Chennai||200 km/h (120 mph)||1676||495 km (308 mi)||Approved in 2014 Railway Budget|
|Nagpur - Raipur - Bilaspur||160 km/h (99 mph)||1676||413 km (257 mi)||Approved in 2014 Railway Budget|
|Nagpur - Secunderabad||200 km/h (120 mph)||1676||575 km (357 mi)||Approved in 2014 Railway Budget|
|Visakhapatnam - Bhubaneswar||160 km/h (99 mph)||1676||444 km (276 mi)||Approved in 2014 Railway Budget|
|Delhi - Mumbai||200 km/h (120 mph)||1676||1,386 km (861 mi)||Approved in 2017 Budget|
|Delhi - Kolkata||200 km/h (120 mph)||1676||1,500 km (930 mi)||Approved in 2017 Budget|
India's quest to run rails at the 160 km/h (99 mph) 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.
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 (99 mph).
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.
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.
Progress in introduction of 300-350 km/h trains
India's 1st High-speed corridor Mumbai–Ahmedabad high-speed rail corridor construction will start in 2018 and is expected to complete by 2023. Commercial operation is expected to start by 2025.
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.
The Indian Ministry of Railways' white-paper "Vision 2020", submitted to Indian Parliament on 18 December 2009, 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: Delhi–Chandigarh–Amritsar, Pune-Mumbai-Ahmedabad, Hyderabad-Kazipet-Dornakal-Vijayawada-Chennai, Howrah–Haldia, 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). It will handle tendering, pre-feasibility studies, awarding contracts, and execution of the projects. The corporation will comprise four members, all of whom will be railway officials. All high-speed rail lines will be implemented as public–private partnerships on a Design, Build, Finance, Operate, and Transfer (DBFOT) basis. The corporation was officially formed on 29 October 2013.
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). RITES is currently performing a feasibility study.
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 up to Rs 500 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). 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.
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, has 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.
|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|
|Howrah - Haldia High-Speed Passenger Corridor||Howrah-Haldia||1676||TBD||250-300||135||TBD||Approved by Planning Commission & PMO|
|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||Delhi-Jaipur-Ajmer-Jodhpur||1676||TBD||591||TBD||Proposed|
|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|
|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)) 
|Bengaluru - Mysuru High-Speed Passenger Corridor||Bengaluru - Mysuru||TBD||350||110||Not planned||Approved in Rail budget 2014|
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), or Rs 41 million per km (US$0.89 million/km). A public-private-partnership mode of investment and execution is envisaged the 250–350 km/h high-speed rail project.
Multiple pre-feasibility and feasibility studies have been done or are in progress.
The consultants for pre-feasibility study for four corridors are:
- Systra, Italferr and RITES Limited for Pune – Mumbai – Ahmedabad,
- British firm Mott MacDonald for Delhi-Agra-Lucknow-Varanasi-Patna
- INECO, PROINTEC, Ayesa for Howrah-Haldia
- Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) and Oriental Consultancy along with Parsons Brinckerhoff India for Hyderabad-Dornakal-Vijaywada-Chennai
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. The study will cost ¥500 million and the cost will be shared 50:50 by Japan and India.
Location of the station, its accessibility, integration with public transport, parking and railway stations design 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. European experiences have shown that railway stations outside the city receive less patronage and ultimately making the high-speed railway line unfeasible.
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.
Speed of trains
|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||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 (99 mph) is allowed for operation in India)
|YES||WAP-5 locomotives, Kapurthala Rail Coach Factory (Indian, max. speed of 160 km/h (99 mph))|
|Express Trains||120 – 140 km/h||70 – 90 km/h||Already in operation||YES||WAP-5, WAP-7, WAP-5 and LHB coaches of Indian Railways|
|Passenger||90 – 110 km/h||40 – 60 km/h||Already in operation||YES||WAM-4, WAP-1, WDP-4/B/D, WDP-3A, WDM-3A/D.|
Diamond Quadrilateral project
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. 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.
Proposal to introduce 500 - 550 km/h trains
Indian Railways is exploring the possibility of a super-speed also called 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.
India is focusing on bringing 500-550 km/h trains within next 5 years through a Public-Private partnership model, where Indian Railway will be a partner by providing land for the railway lines and infrastructure. Every other aspect of the system will be decided and operated by the private partner. It is expected to provide following benefits to the Indian economy.
- It will bring down the transportation time and cost to lowest in the world. It will bring-in massive efficiency in Indian economy. Goods and people which used to take more than 3 days for transport, will be transported within 3 hours.
- It will build a local base for the next generation of the railway locomotives for export.
- India will be a leader in 21st century railway technology by building a railway manufacturing eco-system with the help of private industry
- Indian logistics cost will drastically come down, as of now it is thrice of China.
- It will make Indian exports and manufacturing cost competitive, in the price sensitive world export market.
- It will create jobs in the economy, by bring in more business to small and medium scale industries who will act as a component and parts supplier to bigger manufacturing firms.
- It will accelerate scientific research within the country in high-end material science and magnetic science
- India will acquire a knowledge, which is as of now possessed by only handful of countries in the world
- High-end technology knowledge can be used for achieving geo-political purposes and means as demonstrated by world powers. For example, sale of nuclear power reactors, Jet-engines, High-speed trains, infrastructure building in other countries, military technologies, Economic corridors are used in extending the influence of one country over other.
As of November 2016, the Indian Railways has asked Rail India Technical and Economic Service (RITES) to prepare a detailed project report within the next six months. The railways aims to implement the first stretch of the project in less than three years’ time.
Earlier in 2016, 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. 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. The new railway system, parallel to the current one, should support passenger and freight traffic.
India may build its future metro train systems using Maglev as it has faster acceleration and deceleration than traditional metro systems. China is building new lines for Beijing Metro and Changsha Metro using maglev technology to retain Chinese cost competitiveness in the world market by reducing the transportation time and cost.
Maglev trains in other parts of the world
Japan, China, South Korea and Germany have built maglev train systems and few other countries are conducting research projects on implementing futuristic railway systems. China is building new Metro trains using maglev systems. It will reduce the travel time and improve the efficiency of the economy. 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).
India is preferring Magnetic attraction than magnetic repulsion technology for cost competitiveness purposes. Because of this India may not build world's fastest maglev trains as Japan did. India is expected to standardise the High speed railway locomotives and systems, as China did for interoperability between multiple private and public players operating the high speed railway within the country.
- Malviya Centre for Railway Technology, IIT (BHU) Varanasi
- Centre for Railways Research, IIT Kharagpur
- Research Design and Standards Organization (RDSO)
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.
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.
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