High-speed rail in India
Prior to the 2014 general election, the two major national parties (Bharatiya Janata Party and 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 via high-speed rail the cities of Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata, and Mumbai. The project was confirmed as a project of priority for the new government in the President's speech. Construction of one kilometer of high speed railway track will cost Rs. 100 - 140 crore which is 10 to 14 times higher than the construction of a normal railway track.
India's Prime minister Narendra Modi approved the choice of Japan to build India's first high-speed railway. The planned railway would run some 500 kilometers (310 miles) between Maharashtra capital Mumbai and the western city of Ahmedabad, at a top speed of 320 km/h. Under the Japanese 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 it's HSR railway line operational from 2025 onwards, once the safety checks are completed.
- 1 Current effort to increase speed to 160-200 km/h
- 2 Proposal to introduce 300-350 km/h trains
- 3 Ultra high speed rail: prospects
- 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Current Semi-high speed systems
Recently just in the start of 2016 India has inaugurated the semi high speed rail system in India . Gatiman Express is India's first semi high speed train and also the fastest train of India till date which runs at the top speed of 160 km/hr from Delhi to Agra . After the Inauguration of Gatimaan express on 5 April 2016 by honourable Railway minister of India Mr Suresh Prabhu has marked as a starting point of semi high speed rail system in India . Now India is proud to have a semi high speed rail system . After the great success of Gatimaan Express and due to high public support the Government of India is planning to start these trains on Delhi - Bhopal / Chandigarh / Kanpur / Lucknow sections 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 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 kmph range.
Chennai-Bangalore-Mysore section has been studied by Chinese and German engineers to increase the speed of the existing line to 200 mph. 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 trail 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|
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.
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.
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
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 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). 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 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.
|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 has been achieved 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
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.
Ultra high speed rail: prospects
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Indian Railways is exploring the possibility of making a technological leapfrog and implementing the Ultra-High Speed Railway network in India. India missed the High Speed revolution and missed opportunity with it to become the supplier to the world. 20th century was about High Speed Railway and 21st century will be of Ultra-High Speed Railways. Indian Banking and IT industry was able to do such an leapfrog in IT systems with directly working on Mobility and Distributed computing, where as US and European countries got stuck in Mainframe computers.The Railway Minister's vision is to make rolling stock the driver for this major shift from India being a technology importer and manufacturer to becoming a developer and designer for futuristic rolling stock technologies.
Indian Railways has announced a seminar and floated a global EOI with Ultra-High speed train manufacturers to explore possibility of introducing Ultra high speed train system in India on PPP basis.
Indian Railways has called for EOI from the global players to implement above 500 km/h railway system in India. The entire transportation infrastructure including railway stations, platforms, tracks, signal syetem, fare structure, and time table will be developed by the private firms while the land related issued will be taken care of by the railways. Revenue thus generated will be shared between the two parties.  The new railway system parallel to the current should support both passenger and cargo traffic.
Japan, China, South Korea and Germany have built such systems and many other countries are running research projects on implementing futuristic railway systems. China is building new Metro train systems with Maglev technology to bring down the time cost delays and to improve the productivity of the economy by reducing the travel time. Beijing Maglev, Changsha Maglev, Shanghai Maglev, Incheon Airport Maglev, Linimo are few of the examples of running Maglev trains for intracity commuting .
Looking at the timeline for DFC and HSR projects in India, assuming India will approve construction of such railway systems by 2020 and the operations may start from 2035 onwards.
- 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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