Soon, semi-high speed trains on Indian tracks

Semi-high speed trains will dash on Indian tracks at a speed of 200 kilometres per hour this year.

The Railways plan to acquire six train-sets from European or Japanese manufacturers and “we expect that one or two of these will become operational this year,” chairman Railway Board (CRB) Vinay Mittal said.

Railways minister Pawan Kumar Bansal is likely to elaborate on the acquisition plan in his budget speech in February.

The train sets have the potential to run at a speed of 300 to 325 kilometres per hour and run on the standard gauge world-over, but the Indian consignment will be customised, enabling them to run at lesser speed ( 200 km per hour) on the existing Broad Gauge tracks.

“The Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (a railways PSU) is in the process of completing formalities relating to the acquisition plan. These will be acquired through global tenders,” Mittal said.

A Japanese-sponsored study on running the semi high-speeds in India has been completed and the report is likely to be submitted shortly to the Railway Board.

Though the Japanese consortium chose the Delhi-Mumbai line for the study, the Indian Railways is likely to pilot the semi-high speeds to connect cities that are 500 to 600 kilometres apart.

Delhi-Amritsar and Delhi-Lucknow are likely to be the possible routes to run the semi-high speeds, an official said.

Meanwhile, the plans to run bullet trains (300-325 kmph speed) on the identified Mumbai-Ahmedabad route appear to have been put on the back-burner. “It is a hugely capital intensive area and the Railways are not so much cash happy at the moment,” a senior official said.

Building high speed corridors on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad route is estimated to cost Rs.65,000 crore.

But the plans to set up a rail tariff regulatory authority are likely to be shortly implemented, officials said.

Proposed as an advisory body, the tariff authority will help de-link railways operations from political considerations, while enabling the public transporter to rationalise freight and passenger tariffs.

Soon, food courts, fast food joints at railway stations

The fare at local train stations is about to get better. Well, nothing to get scared about, since fare in this context does not mean ticket prices. It refers to food.

The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has announced plans to set up within six months 29 food plazas and five fast food units at railway stations including Andheri, Masjid, Kurla, Ghatkopar, Mulund, Wadala Road and Panvel. By March-end, a food court will be opened at Mumbai Central.

At a press conference on Friday, IRCTC officials also said that the corporation was diversifying and will have food plazas on highways, and at malls, offices and even clubs.

Tenders for 28 food plazas and 30 fast food units will soon be invited.

Virender Singh, group general manager, IRCTC, west zone, said at the conference that the first Bharat Tirth special tourist train, which would pick passengers from Maharashtra, will start on March 3 from Pune. The Mumbai pickup point is Kalyan.

The trains are an upgraded version of the Bharat Darshan trains and will have a deluxe component in the form of air-conditioned coaches. Each train will have 12 coaches, including seven sleeper class ones with a capacity of 70 each, and two III AC ones with a capacity of 64 each. The trip would cost Rs 5,650 per person for 10 nights and 11 days, the train passing through Ujjain, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Vashnodevi and Pushkar. The fare includes the cost of meals.

The IRCTC is also examining the feasibility of running steam engines in the Neral-Matheran section.

It already runs package tours in the tourist destination. They have also set up kiosks at CST and Mumbai Central where facilitators help users with information on IRCTC like packages.

“There were suggestions to start a train with comforts as the Bharat Darshan is a budgeted trip where passengers stay in Daramshalas,” he said. In 2009-10 IRCTC ran 16 Bharat Darshan trips which grew to 17 till January this fiscal.

Singh also spoke about starting Mumbai Darshans via road. This he said would have an itenary which even a local would like to explore. “The cost of the day trip by an ac bus would be lesser than Rs 500. Right now the modalities are being worked out- where we would buy the bus or rent one- but we are looking at destinations like Elephanta caves, Hanging gardens, Essel world, pagodas etc,” he said. Initially they are looking at having these trips on the weekends and then look at the response.

Published in: on March 5, 2011 at 3:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
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