Work to begin by December 2019, Mumbai Ahmedabad Bullet Train to run by December 2023
MUMBAI: The Ministry of Railways has drawn up an ambitious, timeline-bound plan for the next five years, according to information received from sources in IR. If things go according to this plan, the Indian Railways will invest heavily on modernisation, improving speeds, capacity and safety across its network by 2024.
Need for Speed: 160 kph on Mumbai – Delhi – Howrah route
One of the key parts of this plan is the drive to increase speeds on the Golden Quadrilateral. The GQ and its diagonals carry a significant proportion of the passenger and freight traffic on IR.
The Ministry has laid out a plan to start work on increasing maximum speeds on the entire Mumbai – Delhi and Delhi – Howrah route to 160 kph. Target to begin work on this project has been set for December 2019.
Similarly, the entire Golden Quadrilateral is to be made fit for 160 kph. Work is targeted to begin by March 2020, with all approvals to be in place by December 2019.
However, it is not clear when the work on both projects is expected to complete.
Speeds on GQ routes today vary from a low 105 kph to 140 kph, with a small stretch between Delhi and Agra fit for 160 kph. Only one train, the 12049/50 Gatimaan Express operates at that speed on that section. The second fastest train is the 12001/02 New Delhi – Habibganj Shatabdi, operating at a maximum speed of 150 kph on the same stretch.
While funds for the project were sanctioned in earlier budgets, this is the first time a clear deadline to begin work has been planned.
The Bullet Train: Mumbai – Ahmedabad HSR by 2023 end
With work on the much-vaunted Mumbai – Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail project getting underway. The ministry has set a deadline of August 2022 for trials on the Surat – Billimora section, with the entire route being ready by December 2023.
The deadline is likely set keeping in mind that the next general elections will be scheduled in May 2024 if the new government completes its five-year term.
IR has made several attempts in the past to increase speeds on key routes.
Locomotives and rolling stock fit for 160 kph and above, widely in use today on IR, were procured in the 1990s. This was a part of a plan to modernise IR, procure and manufacture such critical components indigenously. However, ingestion of what was new technology, and ironing out teething issues with local manufacturing took time.
Soon after he took over the Ministry of Railways in 2004, Lalu Prasad Yadav declared that IR will enable 140 kph speeds on several routes on the Golden Quadrilateral. The plan was put on the backburner in the face of several larger issues of rolling stock and capacity that the transporter was grappling with at the time.