As the Indian Railways plans to roll out Gatiman Express–tipped as the country’s fastest train yet—on the Delhi-Agra route shortly, it in an unprecedented decision has decided that the entire 195-kilometer long route will be fenced by March 2017.
Conservative estimates have pegged the cost of the fencing at around Rs 70 crore and it will be for the first time in the country that an entire track length will be fenced both sides.
Since the complete fencing on the route will only be done by March 2017, railways for the time being have decided to allow the running of this train for the first year, by having “sturdy fencing” at all of the “identified vulnerable locations”. Sources said that vulnerable points spread over around 60 kilometers of route length, have already been fenced using sleepers, masonry wall, precast concrete and barbed wire.
“Preventing cattle from entering the tracks on this route is the main worry. The decision to completely fence this route essentially stems from that,” an official said, admitting there was considerable concern within Railway circles about the forthcoming launch of this train with fencing at only the vulnerable spots. Railways officials said that they are just waiting for the fog to subside before launching this much anticipated train.
In addition to fencing, it is the elimination of the 69 level crossings on this route, which pose a major safety challenge to the smooth operation of this train, is what the Railways are staring at. “The zonal railways have been asked to replace all level crossings with grade separators in 3-5 years. The Board will be reviewing the progress on this front every year to ensure compliance,” a Rail Bhavan official said.
With the Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS) having recently granted “conditional sanction” to run this 12-coach train at a speed of 160 kmph, the Northern and the North Central Railways are now in the process of making last mile arrangements to commence operations of the train.
Targetted to complete its journey from Delhi to Agra in 105 minutes, Railways are learnt to be mulling, starting this train from the Nizamuddin railway station instead of the New Delhi railway station. “The traffic congestion leading to and from New Delhi railway station may lead to considerable loss of time for the Gatiman Express. Making it originate and terminate at Nizamuddin station may even allow us to complete this journey in 100 minutes,” an official said.