Tuesday, September 6, 2016

By Debeshi Gooptu | 2016-09-06

India’s Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu is relying on technology to fast track the modernization drive.

From using space technology to high speed technology for faster movement of trains, Prabhu is leaving no stone unturned to revamp India’s rail network.

Prabhu has recently revealed that the Indian Railways is in the process of acquiring ultra high speed technology to run trains at maximum speeds of 500 kmph and above.

"It is the dream of the Railways to take not more than 12 hours to travel from one part of India to the other and the idea is to enhance the average speed of all trains, so that everyone benefits," Prabhu said. The Minister was inaugurating the global meet on technology for ultra high speed rolling stock for operation at maximum speed of 500 kmph and above.

Earlier this year, Prabhu’s Budget announcement indicated the Railways’ plan to use geospatial and enhanced use of space technology in various sectors of governance. The Ministry of Railways also went ahead and signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for developing Remote Sensing and Geographic Information System (GIS) for Remote Sensing at unmanned railway crossings and other uses.

The agreement aimed for developing applications in the field of Remote Sensing and Geographic Information System (GIS) for Remote Sensing at unmanned railway crossings including all geospatial solutions and customized software solutions for providing reliable, efficient & optimal solutions to the Railways in its various areas of operations thereby benefiting the rail user. Space technology tools would be utilized in providing passenger information system in all trains indicating the next station, stoppage, real time train tracking, survey of new rail route alignments particularly in hilly and difficult terrains, helping to conduct track vulnerability studies, mapping of assets and introducing web enabled rail user centric services.

Nationalised in 1951, the Indian Railways currently is the largest rail network in Asia and the world’s second largest network operated under a single management. It has 115,000 km of track length, running 12,617 trains to carry over 23 million passengers daily and connects more than 7,172 stations.

Regarding the plan to use ultra high speed technology, Prabhu explained that the Railways wanted to develop it, implement it under the Make in India initiative to use it indigenously and export it."

According to Prabhu, the focal point of high speed rolling stock is to enhance customer experience, safety, bring in speed and augment capacity. He said that advance technology always plays a great role in the nation building. The Railways are exploring the possibility of using other high end technologies such as vacuum tubes and hyperloop which are faster and efficient.

International companies such as HyperLoop Transport Technology, USA, Quadralev USA, Talgo, Spain, RTRI Japan, Siemens Germany, Knorr Bremse, Germany, Prose Switzerland are queuing up showcase some of the latest high speed technologies.

The global meet took place before the opening of an Expression of Interest tender for developing, constructing and running a Ultra High Speed Railway system in India on PPP basis.

It is expected that the EOI will give a full view of emerging technologies available in the world in this frontier area of railway technology and enable Indian Railways to move to the next step of sanctioning a project.

Trains can run at more than 350 km per hour speed with the use of levitation technology which is operational in Germany, China and Japan, among other countries.

The one-day international conference on September 2 was organised to bring focus on development ultra-high speed railway systems in the country.

Recently, China’s largest high speed train maker has announced that its first US $ 63.4 million joint venture plant in India to repair and manufacture railway locomotive engines has started operations.

The state-run China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation (CRRC) is the first foreign company to set up assembly line of rail transportation equipment in India after Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled his ‘Make in India’ campaign in 2014.

It will also provide technology support to India’s rail system and supply electric transmission systems to oil drilling, wind power generation and mining equipment making in India, the report said.

This is China’s first major investment in Indian Railways after the two worked out a multi-pronged collaboration for Chinese participation in the modernisation of Indian railway systems.


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