Of high speed trains
Ahmedabad may soon be only two hours away from Mumbai, if Indian Railways’ Vision 2020 on high-speed trains becomes a reality. A two-day brainstorming workshop recently held in Mumbai on security and high speed trains, attended by top global railway officials, discussed nuances of the high-speed train corridor project. Vision 2020, a blueprint of what the Indian Railways should achieve by that year, identified six high-speed corridors one of which was Ahmedabad-Mumbai-Pune. Railway Board chairman Vivek Sahai said a three-tier plan of Indian Railways was discussed at the workshop: covering 500 km in less than two hours, 1000-1500 km in four-five hours, and above 1500 km. A pre-feasibility study on high-speed trains —above 250 km/hr—in the corridor has already been successful. The fastest train in India now is the Shatabdi to Bhopal, at 150 kmph. Senior WR officials said these trains would have a socioeconomic effect. “People can stay at Pune or Ahmedabad and come to work in Mumbai,” said WR chief spokesperson, Sharat Chandrayan, adding, “Carbon footprints would be one-tenth of airlines, they will use one-third the land to transport the same volume of passengers and will be nine times more efficient than planes and four times than cars.” However even as the prefeasibility study is complete, the Railway Board’s in-principle approval is required to start the techno-economic feasibility. The pre-feasibility study estimates the total project cost at Rs 50,000 crore. Chandrayan said the cost of the project would hike the cost per ticket. “The passenger would have to pay between Rs 4-6 per km,” he said. Other problems he said, were land acquisition and that this would be a first of its kind for Indian Railways. “The project would have to be tailor-made for India to bring down costs. We may go for 250 km/h instead of 350 km/h,” he said. “We would need tilting technology for coaches for better negotiation (on curves) and the lines would be a pair (one in the Up and another in Down direction) which would be dedicated only for passenger traffic,” he said. There would be fewer stops, with lines in Mumbai expected to reach the central business area or at least the airport.