High-speed rail in India

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India does not have any railways that can be classified as high-speed rail (HSR) by international standards, i.e. railways with operational speeds exceeding 200 km/h (120 mph).[1] The current fastest train in India is the Gatimaan Express with a top speed of 160 km/h (99 mph),[2][3] which only runs between Delhi and Jhansi.[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 100 crore (US$15 million) - 140 crore (US$21 million) which is 10-14 times higher than the cost of construction of standard railway.[8]

India's Union Council of Ministers approved the proposal of Japan to build India's first high-speed railway on 10 December 2015,[9] the planned rail will run approximately 500 km (310 mi) between Mumbai and the western city of Ahmedabad at a top speed of 320 km/h (200 mph).[10][11] Under this proposal, the construction began in 2017 and is expected to be completed in the year 2022,[12] the estimated cost of this project is 980 billion (US$15 billion) and is financed by a low-interest loan from Japan.[13] Operation is officially targeted to begin in 2023, but India has announced intentions to attempt to bring the line into operation one year earlier,[14] it will transport the passengers from Ahmedabad to Mumbai in just 3 hours and its ticket fare will be cheaper than air planes i.e. ₹2500-₹3000.

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

Background[edit]

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 speed more than 200 km/h (120 mph) on new tracks with improved technology.[15]

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.[16] Indian Railway coach factories are manufacturing semi-high speed coaches, but tracks are not capable of supporting the same.

Dedicated Freight Corridors coming up across India will move cargo traffic from most of the current passenger railway tracks and will support Indian Railways effort to increase the speed of the passenger trains to 200 km/h.

The Chinese Ministry of Railways ran a speed-up campaign from 1997 to 2007 to increase the speed of train travel, the campaign was implemented in six rounds and increased average speed of passenger trains in China from 43 km/h to 70 km/h. Several existing railway tracks were upgraded to run the trains at 250 km/h. India uses Broad-gauge tracks, so it is expected that a speed-up campaign if implemented will increase the average speed to 90 km/h, currently India's average express train speed is 50.9 km/h.

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).[17]

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 km/h and an average speed of 113 km/h (70 mph).[18]

Import of global expertise[edit]

China built its high-speed expertise with the help of license building of the high-speed railway coaches by local manufacturing units. Later those units used those hands-on expertise to build their own high-speed railway locomotives. India has taken a different path where the foreign railways will import or build their own factories in India.

French National Railways (or SNCF) proposed to upgrade the Shatabdi train track between Delhi and Chandigarh to run the trains at a maximum speed of 220 km/h.[19] This is expected provide hands-on expertise for Indian Railways to implement Semi-High speed trains across India, specifically running Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains at maximum speed 220+ km/h with average speed of 150 km/h.

Feasibility study of running semi-high speed trains on the 500 km Chennai–Bengaluru and Mysore section has been submitted by the China Railway Eryuan Engineering Group Co Ltd (CREEC) to Railway Board. It envisions reducing travel time from existing 7 hours to 4 hours and 45 minutes,[20] the German finance ministry has agreed to finance a government feasibility study into a high-speed rail link between Chennai and Mysore, and had discussed a project to modernise the Chennai–Hyderabad route.[21] Germany is conducting a feasibility study for running trains at a speed of about 300 km/h on the 450 km long Chennai-Bengaluru-Mysuru route. It has already completed pre-feasibility study in 2016. A consortium of consultants comprising DB E&C, Intraplan Consult and Ingenieurburo Vossing are conducting the study.[22]

Dedicated Freight Corridors

India uses broad-gauge tracks; 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 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). The Mumbai Rajdhani took 15 hours and 50 minutes at an average speed of 87.7 km/h (54.5 mph).

Semi-high speed systems progress[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.[23][24] Railway minister Mr Sadananda Gowda mentioned in his Rail budget 2014 speech that the railways will start high speed trains at 160–200 km/h (99–124 mph) on 9 routes.

Green background for the systems that are under construction. Blue background for the systems that are currently being planned.

Semi High-Speed Corridor Speed Track gauge (mm) Distance Time reduced Operations per day Start Operations Status
Delhi - Agra 160 km/h (99 mph) 1676 195 km (121 mi) 30 min Inaugurated on April 5, 2016
Mumbai - Goa 130 km/h (81 mph) 1676 579 km (360 mi) Inaugurated on May 22, 2017
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

Use of Train sets[edit]

Indian railways has proposed EMU train sets to operate at semi-high speed (160 km/hr). These are of two types "Train 18" which will be a day train replacing Shatabdi Express and "Train 20" which will be an overnight train replacing Rajdhani Express. Train 18 will roll out till June 2018 while Train 20 will roll out till 2020, these trains will be manufactured by ICF (Integral Coach Factory). [25]

Description

These trains will have loco pilot cabins on both ends, this will prevent the need to reverse the locomotive which will save time. As these are EMU train sets, the time and distance taken to accelerate and decelerate will reduce, enabling the train to travel at top speed for more distance, each coach will be fitted with traction motor so the train will be self propelled. The train coaches will have automatic sliding doors, on board Wi-Fi connection, GPS based information system, wide windows and will be fully air conditioned. Bio toilets will be installed in coaches, the rake of Train 18 will have 16 coaches consisting of 2 Executive Chair Cars and 14 AC Chair Cars, it will operate at 160 km/h, while Train 20 will have 20 coaches consisting of AC First Class sleeper, AC II Tier sleeper, AC III Tier sleeper classes and an AC Chair Car, it will operate at 160 km/h. Train 20's top speed during testing was found to be 176 km/h. [26] [27]

Criticism[edit]

Critics point out that Delhi-Agra time savings are not based on the speed of train but based on other factors. According to critics, the reduction in travel time due to speed is a mere three minutes, and that other maneuverings are largely responsible for the drastic drop, the reduction of time is largely due to shifting the train's departure point from New Delhi railway station to Hazrat Nizamuddin and doing away with the scheduled stop at Mathura reportedly saving 14 minutes. Limiting the locomotive to 10 coaches (Bhopal Shatabdi has 14) leads to a decrease of another two minutes, thus track improvements and superior infrastructure lead to a decrease of only five minutes, three minutes owing to route relay and interlocking at Agra, and one minute each due to the approval to run a passenger train on the third line at Palwal and Bhuteshwar, installation of thick web switches at four points and putting up a track station at Chhata.[28]

There were also serious questions 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 higher speed trains on 60-kilogram tracks, but as of now they are running on 52-kilogram tracks.[29]

Progress in introduction of 250-350 km/h trains[edit]

Current Status[edit]

India's 1st High-speed corridor between Mumbai and Ahmedabad started construction in 2017 and is expected to be completed by 2022, the foundation stone ceremony was held on 14 September 2017 when Japanese Prime minister Shinzō Abe and Indian Prime minister Narendra Modi flagged off the construction work in Ahmedabad.

The JR East/Hitachi E5 series Shinkansen trains will be used in this corridor, it has a maximum speed of 350 km/h, and a maximum operational speed of 320 km/h and an average speed of 260 km/h.[14]

Break of Gauge[edit]

India will have two types of gauges for high speed rail, the new HSR tracks with Japanese technology will be standard gauge, whereas older tracks upgraded to the HSR standard will be in Indian gauge. Therefore there will be no interoperability between newly laid tracks and the older-upgraded tracks for passenger and cargo traffic.

Executive Vice President of Siemens Mobility asserts that India should adopt the Broad-gauge for HSR due to following reasons[30]

  • High-speed rail can change economic growth, as seen in China, Japan and Europe. India is close to what Europe has done, as it is geographically polycentric. Also, India has 25,000 km of electrified tracks (out of 67,000 km of rail network). So, when you have such a network, you also want to create interoperability.
  • If you have a high-speed network, you want trains to run limited times a day. Tracks not getting used in the remaining part of the day can be used to move freight, for instance, Germany runs high-speed trains in the morning and freight at night, because they have a common track gauge.
  • While India is yet to decide on the gauge, though there seems to be a semi-concrete decision to have standard gauge, we feel India would need broad gauge. Otherwise, the high-speed network will exclude the 67,000-km rail network. Also, interoperability will help lower unit transportation costs for high-speed; in due course, India’s existing tracks need to be upgraded for higher speeds, and interoperability will help this.

History[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 to not be viable at that time due to the high cost of construction and the inability of passengers to bear much higher fares than those for normal trains, the railways instead introduced Shatabdi trains which ran at 130 km/h.[31]

The Indian Ministry of Railways' white-paper "Vision 2020",[15] submitted to Indian Parliament on 18 December 2009,[32] 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.

The Ministry of Railways set-up the National High-Speed Rail Corporation Limited as a government company on 12 February 2016 to promote high-speed rail corridors.[33]

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).[34][35] It will handle tendering, pre-feasibility studies, awarding of contracts, and execution of the projects,[36] the corporation will comprise four members, all of whom will be railway officials.[37] All high-speed rail lines will be implemented as public–private partnerships on a Design, Build, Finance, Operate, and Transfer (DBFOT) basis.[38] The corporation was officially formed on 29 October 2013.[39]

Cost[edit]

In a feasibility study published in 1987, RDSO and JICA estimated the construction costs to be ₹49 million per km, for a line dedicated to 250–300 km/h trains. In 2010, the 1987-estimated cost, inflated at 10% a year, would be ₹439 million per km (US$9.5 million/km).[40] RITES is currently performing a feasibility study.[41]

According to the media, the costs for constructing such rail lines in India are estimated to be ₹700-1000 million per km (US$15–22 million/km). Therefore, the Mumbai-Ahmedabad route of 500 km, will cost up to ₹500 billion (US$8.04 billion) to build and to make a profit, passengers will have to be charged ₹5 per km (US$0.11/km). Delhi to Amritsar one-way, a distance of 450 km, will cost about ₹2000 (US$43.48).[42] 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 ₹650 billion.[39]

Proposed Routes[edit]

Potential High Speed Rail lines[43][44]

In India, trains in the future with top speeds of 250–300 km/h, are envisaged to run on elevated corridors to isolate high-speed train tracks and thereby prevent trespassing by animals or 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, the Ahmedabad-Mumbai line runs near the coast and therefore, has more bridges, and parts of it are in backwaters or forests. The 1987 RDSO/JICA feasibility study found the Mumbai-Ahmedabad line to be the most promising.[40]

Maharashtra state government has proposed a link between Mumbai and Nagpur, the government also wants a corridor to connect to Navi Mumbai International Airport.[45]

The below are only proposed routes with no work started on many of the routes.

High-Speed Corridor Route Track gauge Stations Speed Length (km) Further Extension Status
Nationwide
Diamond Quadrilateral Delhi - Mumbai - Chennai - Kolkata - Delhi 1435 TBA 250 - 350 6,500 - 7,000 No Extension Approved in Rail budget 2014
East India
Howrah–Haldia high-speed rail corridor Howrah-Haldia 1435 TBD 250-300 135 TBD Approved by Planning Commission & PMO
North India
Delhi–Patna high-speed rail corridor Delhi-Agra-Kanpur-Lucknow-Varanasi-Patna 1435 TBD 200 - 350 991 Howrah Approved by Planning Commission & PMO
Delhi–Amritsar high-speed rail corridor Delhi-Chandigarh-Amritsar 1435 TBD 450 TBD Approved by Planning Commission & PMO
Delhi–Dehradun high-speed rail corridor Delhi-Haridwar-Dehradun 1435 TBD 200 TBD Approved by Planning Commission & PMO
Delhi–Jodhpur high-speed rail corridor[46] Delhi-Jaipur-Ajmer-Jodhpur 1435 TBD 591 TBD Proposed
West India
Ahmedabad–Dwarka high-speed rail corridor Ahmedabad - Rajkot - Jamnagar - Dwarka 1435 TBD TBD
Mumbai–Nagpur high-speed rail corridor Mumbai/Navi Mumbai - Nashik - Akola - Nagpur 1435 TBA TBA Proposed
Mumbai–Ahmedabad high-speed rail corridor Mumbai-Ahmedabad 1435 11 320 534 Currently under construction
Rajkot–Veraval high-speed rail corridor Rajkot - Junagadh - Veraval 1435 TBD 350 TBD
South India
Hyderabad–Chennai high-speed rail corridor Hyderabad-Kazipet-Dornakal-Vijayawada-Chennai 1435 TBD 664 Howrah(Via Visakhapatnam) Approved by Planning Commission & PMO
Chennai–Thiruvananthapuram high-speed rail corridor Chennai-Bengaluru- Coimbatore - Kochi - Thiruvananthapuram 1676 TBD 350 850 Approved by Planning Commission & PMO
Chennai–Kanniyakumari high-speed rail corridor Chennai-Tiruchirappalli - Madurai - Tirunelveli - Kanniyakumari TBD 350 850 Waiting for Approval from Planning Commission & PMO
Thiruvananthapuram–Kannur high-speed rail corridor Thiruvananthapuram - Kannur 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)) [47]

Approved by Planning Commission & PMO

Bengaluru–Mysuru high-speed rail corridor[48] 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 ₹167 billion (US$3.63 billion),[49] or ₹41 million per km (US$0.89 million/km).[15] A public-private-partnership mode of investment and execution is envisaged for the 250–350 km/h high-speed rail project.[15]

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:[50]

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,[51] the study will cost ¥500 million[52] and the cost will be shared 50:50 by Japan and India.[51]

Location of the stations, its accessibility, integration with public transport, parking and railway stations design[53] will play an important role in the success of the high speed railway system. Mumbai may have an underground corridor to have high-speed rail start from the CST terminal.[54] European experiences have shown that railway stations outside the city receive less patronage and ultimately make the high-speed railway line unfeasible.[55]

High Speed Rail Corporation has called for international bidders for carrying out a pre-feasibility study of the 458-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 (China), CRH 2 (China)
High Speed 300 – 350 km/h 250 km/h Yes[11] NO CRH 1 China, AGV France, Shinkansen Japan, Velaro/Zefiro/ICx Germany, Rotem South Korea KTX, SRT
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)), WAP-7 (Indian, max. speed of 160 km/h (99 mph))
Express Trains 110 – 140 km/h 60 – 90 km/h Already in operation YES WAP-5, WAP-7, WDP-4/B/D, WAP-5, WAP-4 and LHB coaches of Indian Railways
Passenger 50 – 70 km/h 30 – 40 km/h Already in operation YES WAM-4, WAP-1, WDP-4/B/D, WDP-3A, WDM-3A/D.

Diamond Quadrilateral project[edit]

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.[56][57] 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.[58]

Proposal to introduce 500 - 550 km/h trains[edit]

Current Status[edit]

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.

The Andhra Pradesh state government has decided to build it's metro train system in major cities using the Maglev technology, the Changsha Metro system was studied by a team to gain better understanding of running the metro using Maglev. Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam and Amaravati metro railway systems will be built using low speed Maglev train systems.[59][60] It is expected make the industrial sector in the Andra Pradesh the most cost efficient and exports competitive in world market by reducing the logistics cost for the transport of people and freight.[61] Maglev based metro systems improve the quality of life in cities and provide efficient, high-speed rail systems to generate far higher levels of economic output.[62] This is expected to create an industrial base, hands-on expertise and lower costs for Maglev in India.

Kochi metro explored using the South Korean Maglev technology, but it was not fully operational in 2011. So, Kochi metro opted for wheeled-train set technology for initial routes. But, future routes may use Maglev technology.[63]

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.

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,[64] 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 the revenue would be shared.[65] The new railway system, parallel to the current one, should support passenger and freight traffic.[66]

Purpose[edit]

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.[67]

India has large broad gauge network, which supports higher speeds than the standard gauge; in India's context, high-speed trains built on the newer standard gauge tracks and older broad gauge tracks upgraded to run high-speed trains do not have much difference in terms of the speed of the train they can support, but new high-speed tracks are very costly compared to an upgrade of older tracks. But, ultra high-speed trains running on Maglev will bring in efficiency, time-reduction and cost-reduction for the Indian industry, general public and overall economy of the country with almost the same cost as the wheeled high-speed trains, such trains could make the Indian industry and economy the most efficient in the world. However the major blocking financial hindrance is that Maglev technology has consistently shown to be more than double the cost of "standard steel-to-steel bullet train" and thus has been a major economic hindrance to the beginning of any construction of the Chuo Shinkansen.

China wanted to build its High Speed Network using Maglev technology. But, in 1998 there was no commercial train service running on Maglev anywhere in the world. Then, China took a decision to go with the older wheel-based technology for its HSR network. Now, after around 20 years, India has the opportunity to take a decision to build its HSR network using Maglev as presently there are multiple Maglev railway lines in operation and construction stages in multiple countries.

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 the 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 the 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 the private industry
  • Indian logistics cost will come down drastically, as of now it is thrice that 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 businesses to small and medium scale industries which will act as a component and parts supplier for bigger manufacturing firms.
  • It will accelerate scientific research within the country in high-end material science and magnetic science
  • India will acquire knowledge and expertise in the field, which as of now is possessed by only a handful of countries in the world
  • High-end technology knowledge can be used for achieving geopolitical 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.
  • India will have strong integration across regions, bringing down the regional differences and increasing people-to-people contact. As of now, a North-East person has to spend three days in a train to travel to south India. Super-speed trains will make it possible within hours at affordable prices.

Air travel vs high-speed trains[edit]

High-speed trains provide almost the same speed as air travel, while providing multiple additional benefits:

  • Air travel is point-to-point, whereas high-speed trains provide connectivity to en route locations with railway stations almost every 50 km or so on a railway line.
  • Air travel time savings are nullified by the inefficiency in pre and post-travel procedures. A traveller may spend an extra 6 hours for air travel:
    • 4 hours to check in (2 hours in each direction of travel).
    • 2 hours to travel to the airport (1 hour in each direction of travel), whereas railway stations are located nearer to more travellers' points of origin.
  • The cost of travelling to the airport is also saved, as high-speed rail stations can be easily reached through public transport.
  • India will save a massive amount of foreign exchange as cabs and taxis which consume fossil fuel to transport passengers to the airport will not be needed in a HSR era.
  • Massive saving of foreign exchange for the country as trains will use electricity rather than costly air-grade fossil fuel used in aircraft which has to be imported.
  • Environment friendly transport as there are no emissions from the trains since they run on electricity.
  • Super speed trains create massive job opportunities in MSME sector within the country, as trains, stations, tracks, guidance and related equipment have to be manufactured and train infrastructure requires regular maintenance, whereas aircraft are imported or leased.
  • Democratisation of high-speed travel as more people will be able to access cost-effective high speed travel, which is as of now available to only a few in the country.
  • Railways have to come-up with an answer to the access-controlled expressways which are expected to take away most of the railway passengers in the coming years, which will also cut the travel time by half and with your own vehicle. Super-speed trains have major benefits over using your own vehicle on expressways, as of 2017, India has approved construction of 10 expressways. US experience has shown that only a 500+ km per hour railway can provide benefits over expressways, slower than that will lose out to expressways.

Maglev trains in other parts of the world[edit]

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 travel times 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).[68]

Technology choice[edit]

India is preferring to go with magnetic attraction over 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.

Cost reduction and economic viability[edit]

These are the few proposed solutions to reduce the cost of Maglev trains in India

  • Indigenous technology and local manufacturing industrial base
  • Multiple Indian companies with Maglev expertise which can compete in the tendering process and provide competitive pricing
  • Manpower development with seminars and projects in higher technological institutes
  • Broad-gauge double decker trains which can have more passengers and railway cars, rather than single decker standard gauge trains
  • Dual usage for both passengers and cargo
  • Underground train stations near the Central Business Districts of the towns and cities, which will increase the number of passengers using the Maglev service
  • Large scale development. When Delhi metro was being constructed it was criticised for being costly, but it later became a template for nationwide metro rollout.

Hyperloop (900 - 1100 km/h)[edit]

Mumbai-Pune Hyperloop[edit]

It is a proposed 1000 km/hr Hyperloop system that will take 14 minutes compared to the current 3 hours to commute between these two cities while carrying 10,000 commuters per hour (5,000 in each direction), the route was found to be feasible and can be made operational by 2026 as per the Detailed Project Report (DPR) submitted to Pune Metropolitan Region Development Authority (PMRDA) by Virgin Hyperloop one in January 2018. DPR provided three feasible terminal end-points options in Mumbai, namely Dadar, Santacruz and the Mumbai International Airport. Currently, 3,00,000 people commute daily between these two cities daily in 1,10,000 vehicles (including 80,000 cars and 6,000 buses).[69]

Vijayawada-Amaravathi Hyperloop[edit]

The Andra Pradesh state government is currently studying the feasibility of the project and if introduced, the 40 km distance between the two cities can be covered in just six minutes. AP Economic Development Board (AP-EDB) and US-based Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the same.[70] Andra Pradesh already has decided to build it's metro train systems using Maglev technology and has sent the study teams to China for practical study of the operational Maglev based metro train systems.[60]

Bengaluru-Chennai Hyperloop[edit]

Los Angeles-based Hyperloop One, has signed a MoU with Karnataka government to conduct a feasibility study for the route between Bangalore and Chennai, such a Hyperloop will reduce the travel time to 20 minutes between the two cities.[71]

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.[72]

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]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]