Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Conducts trial run on first standard gauge line; it cuts down on cost of tunnels
NEW DELHI: On Wednesday, India’s first standard gauge Metro train rolled out for a trial run in the city. And as the sleek, shimmering contraption dashed past on the under-construction Inderlok-Mundka line, India found itself a place in the list of countries that use the standard gauge.
Marginally narrower than the broad gauge lines, the standard gauge, which is being introduced in the city in keeping with the international standards, has several advantages. While it assures passengers of comfort and speed , it cuts down on civil and engineering costs of creating wider tunnels and bigger stations required for a broad gauge.
Explaining the reason for the shift from the broad gauge to the standard gauge, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation officials said the standard gauge allows easier access through congested areas. “Since Metro alignments have to pass through heavily congested areas, the standard gauge scores over the broad gauge, as it permits sharper curves and requires less land,” an official said.
Pointing out that the standard gauge was adopted by several cities, including Cairo, Madrid, Bangkok, Manila and Beijing, the official said: “In India, the first train, called the standard gauge prototype Metro train, will run through heavily built-up areas for optimal passenger utilisation. The Metro systems coming up in Chennai, Bangalore and Mumbai will also have standard gauge.”
During the trial, the train will run 6.8 km between five stations, from Mundka to Peeragarhi, and it will initially undergo dynamic testing for about a week to check its suspension, safety, reliability and passenger comfort.
“After the necessary clearance is obtained from the Research Designs and Standards Organization (RDSO), Lucknow, probably by the first week of August, more trial runs will be conducted during which the train’s integration with system equipment such as signalling, telecom and platforms will be tested,” said a DMRC spokesperson.
The extensive train testing procedures are being carried out, since it is the first time the standard gauge Metro trains are being introduced in India. Listing the features of the new train, the spokesperson said: “The front of the standard gauge train has a single glass pane as can be seen in cars instead of two separate panes as in the existing trains. Other features include Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras in and outside the coaches, power supply connections inside coaches to charge mobiles and laptops; better humidity control and microprocessor-controlled disc brakes.”
The train will also have external display boards on side windows of each coach so that passengers can view the terminal stations while standing on platforms. Digital route maps will be provided inside coaches instead of stickers and four passenger information boards will be used in each coach.
For the DMRC’s second phase, standard gauge tracks have been provided on the Inderlok-Mundka, Central Secretariat-Badarpur and the Airport Express Line. “These three lines are being built on standard gauge — 4 feet 8.5 inches — as per the international norms. The Corporation will procure 48 standard gauge trains from a consortium of Mitsubishi, ROTEM, Mitsubishi Electric Corporation and Bharat Earth Movers Ltd. Of these, three, including the prototype being tested, have already arrived at the Mundka depot,” the spokesperson said.
The Inderlok–Mundka line is 15.15 km long and has 14 stations. It is scheduled to be opened by March next, but the DMRC is confident that the line will be ready for commissioning by the end of this year. Platforms on the line have been built with a view to accommodating six-coach trains.
The first train arrived in the country in March this year after a three-week voyage by sea.