As one of several measures to increase average speeds, Indian Railways has decided to target 5 kmph speed increases for passenger services every year over the next 5 years.
According to a PTI report that quoted Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain, general managers of all zonal railways have been directed to work on the plan, thus achieving increased average speeds by 25 kmph in 2022.
While an increase of 5 kmph per year in average speeds seems small in absolute terms, significant bottlenecks in the system threaten to derail the plan before it makes any headway.
Most major station yards are already affected by heavy congestion caused by low turnout and loop line speeds. Remodeling of yards is a complex and cost-intensive exercise, usually spanning several years for every yard.
Saturation of trunk lines, most already operating well over design capacity, is another major bottleneck that will require significant investments of money and time to allow trains to run at higher speeds consistently.
Several plans to enhance capacity on trunk lines have already been announced. However execution has been plagued by delays due to various reasons, including land acquisition hurdles at various locations.