Talgo, the Spanish manufacturer of high-speed trains, is all set to lease out 2-5 trains to Indian Railways in less than a year’s time. Sources with knowledge of the matter told FE Online, that Suresh Prabhu-led Indian Railways is awaiting a final approval of Niti Aayog, before officially telling Talgo to lease out its trains to India. Once the contract is signed, it will take Talgo less than a year to supply anywhere between 2-5 trains. “The train is likely to be of around 26 coaches each, so that the total capacity matches that of the existing Shatabdis,” sources told FE Online.
The approximate price of leasing these trains is not known yet, since Talgo will have to purchase the coaches from existing international users. “Manufacturing a new India-specific train will take a lot of time. Indian Railways is looking to ply these Talgo coaches as early as possible. So, Talgo will take the train from international customers and modify it for Indian needs,” sources said, adding that three major changes are likely to be made. These are platform height, toilets and pedestals to ease platform train gap. “Also, Talgo will refurbish these trains as much as possible to give them a new look and feel,” the sources added.
Watch: Exclusive Interior Preview Of Talgo Train
Talgo’s train that the company brought to India for trials had two Executive Class cars, four Chair Cars, a cafeteria, a power car and a tail-end coach. The Executive class car can seat up to 20 people and has rich looking black seats, that are quite comfortable. The general chair car can seat up to 36 people. Talgo’s train also has a cafeteria designed for European needs. It has provision for food items like burgers and donuts along with tea and coffee. If Talgo’s coaches are used, the cafeteria may need to be redesigned to suit Indian needs. The coaches of the Talgo train are made up of aluminium alloys which are light as compared to conventional rakes of Mail/Express trains in India. The Spanish company claims that its coaches are 45% lighter and 30% more energy efficient than LHB coaches. The coaches are also designed with a unique tilting mechanism, that allows the train to attain higher speeds even on curves.
Last month, Anil Saxena, the Additional Director General Public Relations at Railway Ministry told FE Online that Talgo coaches are likely to be used on Shatabdi routes. On paper, Talgo’s light-weight coaches can help reduce the travel time on Shatabdis by as much as 25%. This means that a journey between Delhi to Lucknow, Bhopal or even Amritsar, which takes anywhere between 6 to 7 hours by Shatadbi right now, can be reduced to around 4.5 to 5 hours!
Talgo’s train underwent an extensive trial from May to September this year. In a big boost to Indian Railways’ dreams of semi-high speed trains, Talgo’s train completed its Delhi-Mumbai Rajdhani route trial in less than 12 hours! This is a four hours time relief from the Rajdhani which takes almost 16 hours to complete the approximately 1,388 km distance. Not only that, Talgo’s coaches clocked the highest ever speed on Indian tracks – 180 kmph during their Mathura-Palwal Rajdhani stretch trials. The fastest train currently on Indian tracks is the Gatimaan Express, which runs at a maximum speed of 160 kmph for a train journey between Delhi and Agra.
Meanwhile, Indian Railways is also planning to invite international players to set up an aluminum coach factory for high-speed trains in India under the Modi government’s ‘Make In India’ drive. An international competitive tender for the same will be floated soon.
In September this year, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu had spoken of his dream for Indian Railways – rail connectivity that ensures that a train journey from one part of the country to another does not take more than 12 hours. Given his vision, and the increasing competition that Railways is facing from airlines, Talgo’s coaches and other semi-high speed and high-speed trains will go a long way in benefiting the Indian Railways, and of course the common man!