Semi High Speed Train Network on Slow Track

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NEW DELHI: The ‘Mission Raftaar’ was one of the seven missions announced by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu to transform Indian Railways in his budget speech this year but work on six of nine semi-high speed sectors announced in 2014 are yet take off with no money in the kitty.

The Delhi-Agra Gatiman Express is awaiting flagging off after it received go ahead from the Commission of Railway Safety. The feasibility study is being done on Delhi-Chandigarh by French railways SNCF and a Chinese company is expected to submit by April feasibility for the Mysore-Bengaluru-Chennai section.

There has been no progress on rest of the six projects -- Delhi-Kanpur, Nagpur-Bilaspur, Mumbai-Goa, Mumbai-Ahemdabad, Chennai- Hyderabad and Nagpur-Secunderabad. This is when railways have the expertise, loco and coaches to increase the speed in these sections to 160 kmph.

“The assessment done by railways for completing these nine sectors pegged the amount at Rs 15000 crore. We have the knowledge and need no outside expertise to increase the speed but there have been no orders from the top to take up the task. No funds have been allocated for the projects except these three and rest all at standstill,” said sources in the railway ministry.

A senior railway officer said that the maximum speed railway is now able to operate trains is at 130kmph and there is only one train New Delhi-Bhopal Shatabadi Express which runs at a speed of 150 kmph.

“When we are talking of bullet trains over 300 kmph and an investment of nearly 1 lakh crore, we should also focus on incremental increase in speed of other trains. Running bullet train is welcome but we also know that high speed network is nowhere in the world running in profit,” said the official.

According to railways, while Mysore-Bengaluru-Chennai is the toughest section due to difficult terrain and hills, the Delhi-Kanpur is the easiest section to complete.

“As per the cost requirement for increasing speed 160 kmph, we would need an investment of Rs 300-400 crore on Delhi-Kanpur section. This route is catering to many trains and increase in speed will benefit many passengers,” the official added.

Prabhu in his budget speech last month has announced Mission Raftaar under which railways will target doubling average speeds of freights trains and increasing the average speed of superfast mail/express trains by 25 kmph in the next 5 years. Efforts will be made to replace loco hauled passenger trains will be replaced by DEMU/MEMU over the next five year.

Source: TheNewIndianExpress

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