Wednesday, January 28, 2015

High-speed B’luru-Chennai rail may be scrapped

Bengaluru: Your dream of zipping to Mysuru or Chennai on a speeding train isn't likely to happen now. Reason: the much hyped high speed rail project connecting Bengaluru to Chennai and Mysuru is set to be grounded. Sources in the Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL), New Delhi, told TOI that the project involves too many changes en route (Bengaluru-Mysore-Chennai) to convert the existing tracks to accommodate speeding trains. "A high-level delegation of China Railway Eryuan Engineering Group Co Ltd (CREEC), which did the track inspection of the 500 km corridor, has suggested straightening of over 100 curves with more than five degrees angle each. Also, this entails acquiring extra land, rehabilitating people and rebuilding bridges and level crossings at different points. This needs huge investment of multiple crores and time. If we want to build new tracks, it may cost more than Rs 200 crore per km. Hence, it may not be feasible to implement the project along the corridor," officials at RVNL connected with the project told TOI on Tuesday. The Chinese delegation, which conducted the track inspection in November last year, found as many as 145 curves along the proposed Chennai-Bengaluru-Mysuru route, of which 135 are located between Bengaluru and Mysuru. "Chinese experts have called for straightening of the curves. Only then can the existing train speed of about 80 kmph be increased to 160 kmph-200 kmph," said another source. Sources said though the final report of the Chinese delegation is expected in February this year, there is little hope that Indian Railways will go ahead with the project as announced in the budget last year by the Narendra Modi government.

Alok Tiwari, chief project manager (Bangalore field office), RVNL did agree about the difficulties in implementing the high speed rail project along the said corridor. "There are many practical problems. However, a final call on the project will be taken only after the report submission by the Chinese delegation," he added. A senior official from the South Western Railway (SWR) said another problem with the corridor is that it is a very busy corridor and is difficult to stop operations for long to implement the project. "As many as 27 trains ply between Bengaluru and Mysuru and 21 along the Chennai route," he added.


The high speed rail project, one among the nine such corridors announced in the Railway budget, promised to reduce travel time between major cities. The plan was to upgrade the present railway network to achieve greater speeds as bullet trains would require completely new infrastructure. It can be noted here that a team of experts from High Speed Rail Corporation, which conducted field studies along the Chennai-Bengaluru-Mysuru corridor, had also expressed reservations on feasibility of the high speed rail project.



3 hours is average time taken by trains to cover the 139km distance between Bengaluru and Mysuru. Average speed of trains is 60 to 80 kmph. Between Bengaluru and Chennai, the speed is 70 kmph to 90 kmph.

Shatabdi Express between Chennai and Mysuru via Bengaluru runs at 90 kmph. To cover one way it takes around 7 hours.

In China, the average speed of trains is 200 kmph. Experts there are developing tracks that can enable trains to run at a speed of 300-350 kmph. The fastest train there can attain speed up to 480 kmph.


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