Indian Railways is set to replace the traditional slow moving ‘passenger’ trains running on the Golden Quadrilateral with Mainline Electric Multiple Unit (MEMUs), claims a report in the Financial Express.
According to sources quoted by Financial Express, IR proposes to replace approximately 65 passenger train rakes or around 1200 coaches with MEMU trainsets in FY 2019-20.
‘Passenger trains’, called as such to differentiate them from the faster Mail or Express trains in railway terminology, usually halt at all stations in a section. On the other hand, Mail/Express or higher-class trains stop only at major stations on any route.
Services like these cater to local or regional commuter traffic on routes where suburban EMU trains do not operate. Passenger trains utilise a consist of anywhere between 4-20 coaches hauled by a single locomotive. Trains such as these concentrate traction power at the head of the train and thus suffer from relatively poor acceleration and braking performance.
Such traditional train consists hinder operation of faster trains that may be running behind them, and reduce average speeds as well as overall sectional capacity. Utilising (MEMUs), called as such because these self-propelled trains are actually 2-5 individual units coupled together, allows for faster acceleration and braking, making them better suited for passenger service operations and improving sectional capacity.
MEMUs also save money for IR in several other ways. Unlike locomotives that require a loco pilot and an assistant loco pilot to operate the train, MEMUs can be manned by a single loco-pilot. Modern MEMUs also feature regenerative braking, thus reducing the cost of energy required to run the normally loss-making passenger services.
The ministry’s targets for such high output in a single year may be ambitious since ICF, the only current manufacturer of such trainsets, also has to produce standard LHB design coaches and more Train-18 like trainsets. Also pending in the orderbook are many EMU rakes awaiting production for new suburban services in Mumbai and other cities.