The Central Railway (CR) aims to increase the speed limit on seven key routes by the end of the financial year 2018-19. The move is expected to cut down the travel time to cities including Nagpur, Chennai and Delhi by four hours. Mission Raftaar, which was announced in the railway budget of 2015-16, aims to increase the average speed of all non-suburban passenger trains by 25 kmph in the next five years.
Work on upgrading the track limit on six routes on the Golden Quadrilateral (GQ) including Delhi-Mumbai, Delhi-Howrah, Howrah-Chennai, Chennai-Mumbai, Delhi-Chennai and Howrah-Mumbai remains a priority.
CR contributes to four of these six routes and the project plays a key role in increasing the speed of trains leaving or coming to Mumbai. The estimated cost of the project is close to Rs 15,000 crores. On the Western Railway (WR), work is being carried to increase the speed limit of trains between Mumbai and Delhi.
“The work is being carried on in two phases — Phase I will include increasing the speed limit of trains to 130 kmph, while the second phase will include increasing it to 160 kmph. We have already increased speed limit between Itarsi-Balharshah on the Delhi-Chennai sector to 120 kmph, while work on the remaining sections is on,” a senior CR official said.
According to the plan, time taken to commute from Mumbai to Nagpur will be reduced to eight hours from 12 at present, and to 16 hours from 22 at present for reaching Chennai.
On the WR, trains are expected to run between Mumbai-Delhi at 160 kmph reducing the total time to 12 hours from 16 at present.
In a presentation made by the CR General Manager D K Sharma to the Railway Board on May 30, the CR plans to increase the sectional speed limit to 110 kmph by 2018-19.
These sections include Diva-Panvel-Roha, Amravati-Narkher, Pune-Miraj-Kolhapur, Miraj-Latur, Manmad to Solapur, Chhatarapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus-Kasara and Boisar-Diva.
“Most of these sections lie on the four routes in the GQ. For example, upgrading the speed limit between CSMT-Kasara section will cut down the travel time to reach Nagpur from Mumbai. The work will be carried out in phases to reduce the overall commute time,” the railway official added.
Major challenges for the project include permanent speed restrictions, level crossing gates, multiple stoppage of trains and congestion on these routes. CR plans to revise the operational time-table and revamp maintenance facilities to make this possible. This would be done by allowing a maximum halt of five minutes at junction stations; rationalising stoppages-on mail/express trains and super fast trains, discontinuing services with poor patronage and removing slow moving passenger train services from the GQ route.
While the CR has removed 23 permanent speed restrictions from a total of 677 on these routes, removing 15 restrictions each year from 2019-20 remains the aim. Operating 200 trains on a daily basis, the CR performs more than its capacity. The project plans to increase the maximum permissible speed limit of trains on the CR to at least 70 kmph from 50kmph at present.