Talgo’s coaches are undergoing their final and crucial trial run on the Delhi-Mumbai Rajdhani route, in which the Spanish company’s claim of less than 12 hours train journey time is being put to test. The train departed from New Delhi at 14:45 hours on Saturday afternoon and reached Mumbai Central at 02.33 hours today morning. With this, Talgo has successfully met its claim of reducing train travel time between Delhi and Mumbai by 4 hours.
Talgo’s coaches, that are being pulled by an Indian Railways engine, consume 30% less energy, the company says. Their natural tilting mechanism and the fact that they are lightweight allow them to attain higher speeds on existing Indian tracks, requiring very few infrastructure upgradational inputs from Indian Railways.
The Delhi-Mumbai Rajdhani route trial is crucial not only because a longer stretch would be the best way to test Talgo’s claims effectively, but for the fact that it would mean a drastic reduction in the train travel time between the metro cities to less than 12 hours. Currently, the Delhi-Mumbai Rajdhani takes almost 16 hours for the approximately 1,388 km distance. Talgo’s coaches have been undergoing trials since May and have gone through rigorous tests to successfully meet the targets set by Indian Railways.
1) Bareilly-Moradabad-Saharanpur route – Phase 1 (May 29-June 12)
Initially, Indian Railways’ RDSO (Research Designs & Standards Organisation) tested the suitability of the Talgo coaches on the Indian tracks. Starting from speeds of 80 kmph to 115 kmph, in 10 runs (5 each with empty and loaded coaches) Railways tested the various technical parameters of the train to see whether Talgo’s coaches respond well on Indian tracks or not.
“These trials were done on the main-line tracks, which are fit for passenger train speeds of up to 110 kmph. Only after Talgo passed that test did we move to the Rajdhani section,” says Vijay Kumar, Executive Director, Infrastructure at Railway Board.
2) Mathura-Palwal Rajdhani stretch (July 9-July 29)
From July 9 began the speed trials of the Talgo coaches, in which the Spanish manufacturer of high-speed trains successfully beat Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Gatimaan to clock the highest ever speed on Indian tracks. “We started the trials at a speed of 120 kmph and increased the speed 10 at a time for every trial to finally hit 180 kmph. This was done with the coaches both empty and loaded,” Vijay Kumar told FE Online. “Basically, we conducted a total of 14 trials, 2 for each speed (empty and loaded) to check Talgo’s claims. We tried various cant deficiencies as well, that is we checked whether Talgo is correct in claiming that its coaches can attain higher speeds on curves. And they successfully cleared all tests,” Kumar added. Indian Railways also tested the emergency brake system of Talgo at various speeds.
Watch: Exclusive interior preview of Talgo’s coaches
3) Delhi-Mumbai Rajdhani route (August 1-September 11)
These have been the most stringent trials, involving multiple speeds and parameters being tested by Indian Railways. The August 1 trial was incomplete due to heavy rains and track washout, but given the time saved before being hit by nature’s forces, Indian Railways had declared it a success. “If you look at the clear run from Mathura to Surat, then there was a saving of 85 minutes as compared to the Rajdhani,” Vijay Kumar said. Subsequently trials were conducted on August 5, 9 and 13 at speeds of 130 kmph and 140 kmph.
“The August 5 trial was done at a maximum speed of 130 kmph, with 125 mm cant deficiency. The run was completed in 12 hours and 36 minutes. The August 9 trial happened at a maximum speed of 140 kmph, with 125 mm cant deficiency. It was completed in 12 hours and 7 minutes. Then on August 12, the August 1 trial run parameters were tested, that is 130 kmph maximum speed and 100 mm cant deficiency. The train took 12 hours 43 minutes,” Vijay Kumar elaborates. “Finally on September 7, we did the trial at 140 kmph and 100 mm cant deficiency and the train took 12 hours and 27 minutes. This was more than the 12 hours 12 minutes claim. But all in all the last phase of trials has been successful so far,” he added.
With the trial runs coming to an end, Indian Railways will now decide on the best possible use of Talgo’s coaches for Indian tracks.