In a first for Indian Railway, the public sector transporter is laying a 20 km-long test track, equipped with a state-of-the-art laboratory, near Raipur for trial of high-speed and regular trains it plans to introduce.
Besides new locomotives and coaches, the test track will also be used for trial of high axle load wagons.
Currently, the trial of new trains are conducted on the existing rail network causing traffic delays, said a senior Railway Ministry official, adding the tracks are not equipped to help simulation of all test conditions.
Test tracks are used for trial run of new trains in countries, including the US, Japan and South Korea.
In India, a section of the railway network is cordoned off and no train movement is allowed whenever a new train is put on trial run, causing traffic diversion and delay in operations.
The 20 km test track, including a 5 km loop line, will be developed at an estimated cost of about Rs 100 crore.
The need for a test track for expeditious trial of prototypes under varying conditions has been felt for long, the official said, adding, it will go a long way in enhancing the research and development capabilities of railways.
The facility will be used for technical acceptance tests and approvals of locomotives, rolling stock under operating condition and personnel training.
It will also be equipped for prototype testing of all new innovations and development of railway technology which require a number of safety permissions and protocols to be followed rigorously.
Railways conduct a number of tests for ensuring safety of passengers such as coupler force trials, oscillation trials and emergency braking distance trials, among others. The test track will also enable railways to undertake railway related research projects, and devise better and innovative solutions for infrastructural bottlenecks on the railway network, the Railway Ministry official said.
It will be used for technical acceptance tests and approval of locomotives, rolling stock under operating condition, including signalling system and personnel training. The test track will be equipped with a state-of-the-art laboratory and monitoring unit with latest facilities to examine the rail worthiness of new trains, he said.
Railways plans to improve its research unit to handle the scenario that would emerge following the advent of bullet trains and high axle load double stacker freight service.
Research Design and Standard Organisation, Indian Railway’s research unit, will be completely revamped to cater to the new situation and the test track is part of the public sector behemoth’s R&D solution.