The Delhi Metro’s ambitious Airport Express Link that will connect New Delhi railway station to the international airport will be the first in the country to use the contemporary technology for railway tracks – RHEDA-2000. Suited for very high speed corridors, the technology will allow trains on this section to travel with ease at a speed of 135 km per hour.

A ballast-less track, the 22.7 km Airport Express Link has a completion deadline of February 2010 and fortified with RHEDA it will have the advantages of being low on maintenance and high on performance.

In ballast-less tracks, the ballast (stones) are replaced by a bed of concrete and the rails rest on rubber pads placed over concrete sleepers fixed on the concrete bed.

“RHEDA is a new technology that is evolving globally and allows a major technological breakthrough. It has various advantages, the foremost being the availability of track almost 24x7,” said L.S. Patil, Executive Chairman of Patil Rail Infrastructure Private Limited (PRIL), that has bagged the project to design, manufacture, supply and supervise the laying of the ballast-less track solution for the Airport Express Link.

Referring to the advantages of the technology, Mr. Patil said: “A ballast-less track needs less maintenance and therefore the tracks’ availability is almost 99 per cent. This means, since the track does not need closing down for maintenance, it is open to traffic throughout. Also, the tracks life span is 60 years and with RHEDA-2000, trains can travel at speeds up to 350-400 km per hour.”

RHEDA technology was first used in Germany’s Rheda (from where it gets its name) in 1972 and is currently under implementation across 3,800 km of track in countries like Korea, Taiwan and the United Kingdom, said PRIL director Hans Bachmann.

Mr. Patil said the technology combines long term experience, flexibility of adaptation to different applications, safety and a high degree of constructability.

Ballastless tracks that cost 40-50 per cent more than ballast tracks do not even take longer to lay. “The expenses are 40- 50 per cent more, but the laying is fast, we can lay up to 550 to 600 m of track per day,” said Mr. Patil.

He said though the Airport Express Link has been designed for a speed of up to 160 km per hour, trains on this segment will be limited to run at a speed of 135 km per hour.

RHEDA-2000 ballast-less track solutions being implemented by Patil Rail Infrastructure has been developed in India in collaboration with RailOne AG, Germany, designers and implementers of high speed rail track solutions in Europe.

Patil Rail is also in the process of installing RHEDA ballastless tracks at Jammu-Kashmir railway line.

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