Talgo, the Spanish manufacturer of high-speed trains, has taken up the challenge of covering the distance between Delhi and Mumbai in less than 12 hours, with the help of its “light-weight” coaches. Currently, the Rajdhani covers the 1,388 km distance between Delhi and Mumbai in 16 hours and 10 minutes.
Talgo formally approached the Suresh Prabhu-led Indian Railways with its proposal in July 2015. According to the company, its coaches weigh much less than an average Indian Railways coach. This, the company claims will help it run trains at a higher speed on the existing Indian tracks.
Yesterday, Talgo’s coaches attained a speed of 180 kmph during their speed trials between Mathura and Palwal. This was the first time the 9-coach train, being pulled by an Indian Railways engine, has clocked such a high-speed.
Talgo’s coaches, pulled by an Indian engine, are currently undergoing extensive trials by the Indian Railways to test the Spanish company’s claims and check the compatibility of the train on Indian tracks.
Vijay Kumar, Executive Director, Infrastructure at Railway Board says, “This is a first of its kind trial that the Indian Railways is undertaking.” “We normally test all newly designed coaches, but with Talgo, three-stage trials are being conducted, which has never happened before to the best of my knowledge,” Vijay Kumar told FE Online.
Indian Railways’ Research Designs & Standards Organisation (RDSO) is conducting the three-phase trials of Talgo’s coaches. While the first stage of trials has been completed, the second is underway, and the third is expected to start from the first week of August.
It is only after these extensive trials are completed and a report on the same analysed, will the Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu take any decision on using the Talgo coaches for Indian Railways.
What is Talgo claiming, and what do the three stage trials involve? We take a look:
Third-stage trials (From August):
From the first week of August, Indian Railways will try out the Talgo coaches, that are being hauled by a 4,500 HP diesel engine, on the Delhi to Mumbai route. “Talgo claims that it can clock the 1388 km journey in 11 hours and 38 minutes, at a speed of 150 kmph,” Vijay Kumar told FE Online. “We will try out the train at two speeds 130 kmph and 150 kmph on the Delhi-Mumbai Rajdhani route,” Kumar said.
Three trial runs will be conducted on the route, first from Delhi to Mumbai at a speed of 130 kmph. “Talgo says that the journey can be completed in 12 hours and 47 minutes at that speed. For the second trial, with some changes in technical specifications, we will ply the train from Mumbai to Delhi and check if it completes the journey in 12 hours and 27 minutes,” Kumar elaborated.
Finally, and most importantly, the train will be tested at a speed of 150 kmph from Delhi to Mumbai. This final leg of the trial is crucial because it will determine whether the train journey between Delhi and Mumbai can be undertaken in less than 12 hours with Talgo’s coaches.
Second-stage trials (Underway):
The trials which began on July 9, are expected to go on until the last week of July. Yesterday, one milestone in the trial run was achieved, with the train attaining the target speed of 180 kmph between Mathura and Palwal.
The distance was covered in record 39 minutes. This speed is said to be the fastest till date on Indian tracks. The trial was conducted in the “coaches empty” condition, Kumar said. “We will now conduct the trial at the speed of 180 kmph with coaches being having full capacity. These trials will continue till roughly July 25,” he added.
First-stage trials (Completed):
In the first stage, RDSO tested the coaches for safety and stability. Asked about whether the initial trials have been successful, Kumar said, “Prima facie, everything appears to be within limits. A report on the same is being prepared.”
The train was tested on the Bareilly-Moradabad line in Uttar Pradesh. During the first-stage trial runs, Hamid Akhtar, Executive Director (Testing) at RDSO had told FE Online, “For every rolling stock, be it locomotive, self-propelling etc, the prototype needs to be tested. This is called field verification. The Talgo coaches have been assembled and are now being tested on the existing tracks of Indian Railways.”
Akhtar said that the coaches were tested to see how they react to speed and other parameters on straight tracks and curvatures. Railways used transducers that were connected to computers to record readings and draw conclusions regarding the performance of the coaches.
The coaches were tested on several parameters to check that they are fit for “safe use” on the Indian tracks. The tests took place at speeds ranging from 80 kmph to 115 kmph.
The nine-coach Talgo train consists of two Executive Class cars, four Chair Cars, a cafeteria, a power car and a tail-end coach for staff and equipment.