While the transporter prepared a plan and the Union budget of 2017 sanctioned around Rs 17,000 crore for two corridors of the quadrilateral — Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Howrah — the actual work will only start after the dedicated freight corridors (DFCs) will become operational, expected by March, 2020.
There has been much talk of high-speed trains in the country, and while the Bullet train has the most novelty value, trains running at 160 km per hour across the Indian Railways’ Golden Quadrilateral are the ones the public is most anticipating. However, going by the speed at which work is progressing on the project, the people have a long wait ahead of them.
While the transporter prepared a plan and the Union budget of 2017 sanctioned around Rs 17,000 crore for two corridors of the quadrilateral — Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Howrah — the actual work will only start after the dedicated freight corridors (DFCs) will become operational, expected by March, 2020. “The plan for semi-high speed trains is concrete but it is not round the corner,” admitted a top railway official.
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The other four arms of the quadrilateral are Delhi-Chennai, Chennai-Howrah, Chennai-Mumbai and Howrah-Mumbai.
More than two-thirds of the highly congested 10,000-km Golden Quadrilateral network is utilised to beyond its capacity. While this network accounts for only 20% of the tracks across the country, 55% of the traffic moves on this network alone.
The official said the shutdowns required to carry out work cannot be provided till DFCs are operational.
“The whole purpose of the DFCs is to segregate passenger and freight traffic. We plan to augment the existing railway lines to 160 km per hour once the traffic is segregated. Then we will get the breathing space to provide necessary shutdowns required for upgrading the tracks,” added the official.
The Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India — a special purpose vehicle of the railways which has been entrusted with the job to develop DFCs in the country —is at present constructing two freight corridors. The Eastern DFC will run from Ludhiana to Dankuni having a length of 1,856 km, and the 1,504-km Western DFC will run between Dadri and Jawaharlal Nehru Port.
However, the railways is gearing up to implement the semi-high speed plan expeditiously and getting on with the ground work. In addition to the feasibility study on the proposed network, third lines on these routes are being constructed keeping in mind that there should be no speed restrictions such as curves so that trains can run at 160 km per hour. “By the time the two DFCs will come and segregation will happen, I think all elements of the plan will be in place,” said the official. Upgrading to semi-high speed will require fencing of the tracks, new rails, advanced signalling and building road over-bridges, among others.
Along with the study for on-ground high-speed tracks, the railways had also asked its arm, RITES, to ascertain feasibility of elevated tracks having a speed of 200 km per hour along the Golden Quadrilateral. The DK Mittal committee, in a report submitted in December 2014, had suggested multi-level tracks on the quadrilateral to ease congestion.
The railways, meanwhile, is operating the Gatimaan Express, India’s fastest train, between New Delhi and Jhansi, which can hit a top speed of 160 km per hour.