Following the successful trial run of a semi high-speed train between Delhi and Agra, railways is all set to replicate the exercise on eight more routes by the end of this year as it looks to reduce travel time for passengers.
The Railways has decided to introduce semi high-speed trains in nine sectors which would run at speeds of up to 160 kmph.
“We conducted the trial run at 160 kmph in the Delhi-Agra sector and it was successful. Similar trials will be conducted in the other identified sectors by this year end,” Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda said in New Delhi.
The trial of the semi high-speed train with 10 coaches was conducted in July and the first such service by the railways is expected to be introduced commercially by this November.
Besides Delhi-Agra, railways have identified eight more routes, including Delhi-Kanpur, Delhi-Chandigarh, Chennai- Hyderabad, Nagpur-Secunderabad and Mumbai-Goa, for which the service would be introduced.
Upgrade of the signalling system and the strengthening of tracks and track-fencing in certain areas are needed to enable the operation of semi-high speed trains. Such infrastructure would also enable railways to run Shatabdi trains on long- distance trunk routes and between the various metros.
Mr. Gowda, meanwhile, said that various initiatives have been taken to improve the functioning and performance of railways in the last three months after the NDA coalition assumed power in the last week of May.
He said that the decision to allow 100 per cent FDI in the rail sector would be of benefit in the big ticket projects like high-speed services and Dedicated Freight Corridor as well as in capacity augmentation.
However, he said that railways have not fixed any target for attracting FDI.
“We have announced FDI (in railways), but there is no target for it. But we have targeted Rs 6,000 crore in private investment in the current fiscal,” Mr. Gowda said.
Asked about the possibility of the implementation of fuel adjustment component (FAC) in passenger and freight rate revision, due in the current month, Mr. Gowda said, “I cannot say anything on it right now. We will examine it. Recently we have also announced some concessions.”
Stressing on safety, the Minister said that top priority is being given to the issue of passenger safety and the implementation of the Kakodkar Committee recommendations.
“Recently, there have been a few accidents which were unfortunate. We are adopting new technology to detect rail fracture to prevent accidents,” Mr. Gowda said.
The focus is on eliminating unmanned level crossings as these are one of the major sites of railway mishaps, Mr. Gowda said, adding that it was a “gigantic and challenging task”.
“Steps have been taken for the construction of 249 RUBs and 30 ROBs at unmanned level crossings,” he said.
Listing out the “achievements” of the NDA government in its first 100 days in office, Mr. Gowda said that about 80 per cent of its budget announcements are in various stages of implementation and the remaining would be taken up in a month.
Referring to IT initiatives, he said next generation technology has been incorporated in the online ticketing system as a result of which 7,200 tickets can now be booked in a minute against the 2,000 earlier.
“We had a record 6,24,855 tickets booked in one day on Aug. 27,” he said.