The Indian Railways is all set to replace all only-general-class passenger trains with main electric multiple unit (MEMU) or diesel electric multiple unit (DEMU) rakes to increase traffic speed. The move follows successful testing of MEMUs in the Mughalsarai section. Six traditional loco-hauled trains were replaced by MEMUs and the results have been satisfactory in one of the busiest sections across the country. DEMU and MEMU rakes have motors beneath the coaches and can decelerate and accelerate faster, resulting in quick movement of trains. These trains also do not require to be reversed as they can run both ways. “This will be implemented mostly on the routes on the Golden Quadrilateral, which account for 60% of passenger and freight traffic. These routes comprise only 16% of the track length available to the Indian Railways,” said Mohammed Jamshed, member (traffic), Railway Board. There is approximately 2,000 km of tracks on these routes. Adding lines will require `10 crore per km of investment. However, change in rakes will allow faster movement of passenger traffic on the existing routes. The Golden Quadrilateral includes lines between New Delhi and Kolkata, Kolkata and Chennai, Chennai and Mumbai, and Mumbai and New Delhi. In addition, the plan will also be executed on the lines connecting New Delhi to Chennai and Mumbai to Kolkata.
Despite the national transporter launching various categories of trains with higher speeds such as the Tejas and The Gatimaan, congestion on the tracks reduce the average of all trains and often leads to delays. The deployment of MEMU and DEMU, which can make multiple stops maintaining a high average speed, is expected to ease congestion.
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The development comes at a time when the national transporter has been able to arrest the slide in its passenger traffic. As reported by FE earlier, the Indian Railways’ passenger traffic segment witnessed a 2.5% growth in April-May 2017, compared with the similar period a year ago. This is a sustained growth after an increase of 1% in passenger traffic in 2016-17 to 822.1 crore passengers, from 815.1 crore ferried during 2015-16. In addition, suburban passenger traffic increased 4% during the past two months compared with the year-ago period. It was the first year since 2012-13 that passenger traffic showed a positive growth for the railways.