After the successful launch of Gatimaan Express, Railways has undertaken a mammoth exercise of reducing journey time on the Delhi-Howrah and Delhi-Mumbai routes by increasing speed of trains to up to 160 km per hour at an estimated cost of about Rs 10,000 crore.
"We have firmed up an action plan to increase the train speed to up to 160 km per hour on the total 9000-km main trunk routes across the country as part of the Mission Raftaar project. To begin with we have started the work on two major busy routes of Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Howrah," said a senior Railway Ministry official involved with the project.
Railways has recently introduced Gatimaan Express between Delhi and Agra at 160 km per hour speed.
Strengthening of the track, upgrading of signalling system and fencing off vulnerable sections along the route are to be undertaken to ensure 160 km per hour speed on these two busiest corridors, as per the plan.
While the Delhi-Howrah route is used by about 120 passenger trains and around 100 goods trains every day, some 90 passenger services and an equal number of freight trains run on Delhi-Mumbai corridor daily.
"Once these two major routes are upgraded to 160 km per hour speed, there will be scope for launching more passenger trains in these sectors. This will reduce the waiting list of passengers in some of the popular trains as many more such services with similar facilities will be on the offer," the official said.
As far as cost is concerned, the official said, it is being calculated but approximately it is estimated to cost about Rs 10,000 crore for the two sectors.
All zones involving with these two corridors have been instructed to undertake the work on a mission mode so that trains can move at a maximum speed of 160 kmph in the next three years.
The 1400-km-long Delhi-Howrah and the 1500-km-long Delhi-Mumbai rail corridors are among the two major busy routes of the Golden Quadrilateral of Indian Railways.
Other routes are Howrah-Chennai, Delhi-Chennai and Chennai-Mumbai.
Currently, Mail and Express trains including Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains can speed up to 130 km on these two busy routes.
"There are about 70 per cent of the total 2900-km-long routes of Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Howrah which are compatible of running trains at a maximum speed of 130 km per hour. So we have to upgrade the rest 30 per cent route up to 160 km per hour speed," said the official.
Some of the sections like Kanpur-Lucknow and Baroda-Ahmedabad routes are to be upgraded to make the entire Delhi-Howrah and Delhi-Mumbai routes ready for 160 kmph speed.
It is not only passenger trains but also freight service which will also be benefitted from the Mission Raftar project because goods trains will also be able to move in faster speed once these routes are upgraded, the official said.