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India's 1st high-speed train to arrive next week

April 18, 2016 11:17 IST

Talgo’s Series 9 locomotive to cut Delhi-Mumbai travel time to 12 hours

In what would mark a milestone in India’s efforts to adopt a bullet train system, the country will get its first high-speed train shipped from abroad this week. Spanish train-maker Talgo, globally known for  lighter and faster trains, will on April 21 unload its Series-9 high-speed train on the Mumbai port.

“The train, being shipped from Spain, had started its journey last week. It will touch base at the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) port on April 21. From there, the train will be brought to Delhi for pre-trials on the Delhi-Palwal section before a full-fledged trial on the Delhi-Mumbai route, later this month,” said a senior rail ministry official.

Final trials were likely to be conducted next month before the Railway Board, which would take a final decision on commercial introduction. “The full train is arriving in a mostly assembled form,” the official added.

Talgo had in July 2015 stated its intention to ship its Series-9 train to India at its own cost, as a demonstration of the firm’s unique technology on the Delhi-Mumbai route. Last year, the government had given Talgo the permission.

The company has offered lighter and safer trains, which can be run at speeds of about 160 km an hour and without any major upgrade of existing tracks. The fastest train on Indian Railways system, Gatimaan Express, runs at 160 km an hour between Delhi and Agra.

While it is still unclear whether the government will accede to Talgo’s offer to manufacture trains in India and later export these, Talgo’s benefits are immense.

The service could cut travel time between Delhi and Mumbai to 12 hours from the current 17, while bringing down energy usage, a key component of railways’ expenses, by 30 per cent.

Talgo trains are best known for their unconventional “articulated” passenger cars mounted on Talgo’s patented Jacob’s bogies. The wheels in Talgo coaches are mounted in pairs but not joined by an axle and the bogies are shared between two coaches, compared to the conventional design in which bogies are fitted underneath individual coaches.

“This allows a railway car to take a turn at higher speed with less swaying. Also, as the coaches are not mounted directly onto wheel bogies, the coaches are more easily insulated from track noise. Talgo trains can also change rail gauge, as they are fitted with variable gauge axles,” said a ministry official.

Conventional trains in India do not cross a certain level of speed, as the track network is designed for sharing between fast-moving passenger trains and slow-moving goods traffic. This makes it difficult to negotiate curves at high speed.

Sudheer Pal Singh in New Delhi
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