Buoyed by the successful Talgo train trial, the railways is firming up an acquisition plan to procure 300 light-weight aluminium coaches from the market to be used for reducing inter-city travel time.
With the over-saturated main trunk routes posing a serious challenge for the railways’ ‘Raftaar’ mission, the national transporter is looking towards light-weight aluminium coaches as an easy option to increase train speed on existing lines in shortest possible time.
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has launched the Raftaar Mission to increase the speed of passenger and freight services significantly.
“Instead of steel coaches, use of aluminium coaches seems to be the future now as the railways will gradually go for the light-weight material for faster journey on existing tracks,” said a senior Railway Ministry official, adding, “A global tender will be floated shortly for this.”
The light-weight aluminium coaches manufactured by Spanish Talgo and hauled by an Indian locomotive covered the 1,384km distance between Delhi and Mumbai in less than 12 hours as against the travel time of 16 hours taken by Mumbai Rajdhani, the fastest train at present between the two metropolises.
“We are proposing to acquire 300 aluminium coaches to begin with which means about 15 trains with 20 coaches each can be pressed on inter-city routes such as Delhi-Kanpur and Delhi-Lucknow,” said the official.
Asked whether these coaches will be from Talgo, the official said the procurement will be made through open tendering process in which any company can participate.
The coaches of proposed high-speed train between Mumbai and Ahmedabad will also be made of aluminium as the light-weight train uses less energy and moves faster in comparison to steel coaches.
On if the railways would opt for tilting technology like Talgo train for not losing speed on curves, the official said, “We are examining every aspect. A decision will be taken before floating the global tender.”
However, he said that Talgo-train design has to be changed as it cannot be pressed into service in the Indian rail system in its existing form. While the width has to be increased from the existing size, the footboard height has also to be increased to match our platform height.
The Talgo trial was conducted here without any cost to the railways as the Spanish company did bear the entire cost of shipment of coaches from Spain to India.