Recent moves may facilitate high speed train projects in the country
With the Railway budget giving enough indications of India switching over to high speed train corridors, the highway to fast seamless travel may become a reality before long.
This mode of transport, already very popular in a large number of countries, involves transporting more passengers faster, in greater comfort, and in better conditions of safety, while at the same time preserving the environment in the face of increasing road congestion and air pollution.
Six different corridors have been identified for high speed rail in India so far. However, implementation of these is dependent upon a viable financial model which is yet to be established.
The enormous investment required for creating a dedicated high speed rail infrastructure will not be viable only on the basis from fare revenues. Once a viable model is established and the funding tied up, work on these projects can commence without much delay. The recent moves by the government to establish a High Speed Rail Authority should facilitate the implementation of these projects.
According to French transport and power solution provider, Alstom, the high speed corridors are a perfect answer to the needs of a growing India. The introduction of high speed rail will require for a dedicated infrastructure of the entire system. Trains, track, power supply, signalling will be designed compatible for safe high speed operations. “Other than certain ambient conditions for which some adaptation may be required not very significant changes in technology is envisaged. Alstom can draw upon its experience of its high speed trains operating in different climatic conditions in the world,” an Alstom spokesman said.
Alstom is eyeing the Indian market in a big way. With the widest range of high speed rolling stock such as single deck and double deck, articulated and non-articulated, with distributed and non-distributed power, tilting Pendolino trains, it sees itself as a total solutions company that is capable of executing a complete high speed rail system of track work, traction power supply and signalling. A specific challenge for high speed rail in India would be the right of way. Modern high speed rail calls for straight paths with minimal and large curves.
Land acquisition and elevated or fenced sections to prevent incursion on to tracks in a highly populated country like India could be a particular challenge.