Citizens' Issues
Semi hi-speed EMUs set to zoom past bullet train plans

With bullet trains in India likely to take some years in the making, the government is set to go ahead with the purchase of a cheaper, safer and smarter option - a la the Metro trains - called train sets


As Prime Minister Narendra Modi travels to France and Germany, cooperation in modernising India's giant but creaking railway system is to be a key focus area.
With bullet trains in India likely to take some years in the making, the government is set to go ahead with the purchase of a cheaper, safer and smarter option - a la the Metro trains - called train sets.
The prime minister's first stop will be in France on April 10 where the focus will be his Make in India initiative, according to diplomatic sources. While France has its famous TGV high-speed rail service, it is equally keen to offer its expertise in semi-high speed rail technology. 
The railway ministry has announced global tenders for purchase of train sets called Electrical Multiple Units (EMU), and is looking at European countries, especially Germany, France and Spain, where such trains are popular.
The purchase initially could be off-the-shelf, with Transfer of Technology clause included so that manufacture could later be done in India, an official source told IANS.
The train sets, running on the existing broad gauge lines, would zip at speeds of 130-150 km/hour.
The move, announced in the Railway Budget by Minister Suresh Prabhu, is expected to "revolutionise" train travel in India.
The train sets would have an advantage over the Rajdhanis and Shatabdis in that instead of having a locomotive to haul the coaches, the carriages themselves are mounted with electric traction motors to power the trains. In suburban trains, usually two carriages have the motors.
In Rajdhanis, the average speed works out to 90 kmph becasue the trains have to slow down to about 8 kmph while approaching stations and on the way to picking up speed. The train sets are made for fast acceleration and braking within short distances and would keep to the 130-150 kmph average.
The train sets also have driving cabs at both ends like suburban trains. A train set would be able to pack in more passengers, dispensing with extra coaches like ones for air conditioning, engine, pantry and brake van.
Train sets are safer. They have less tendency to turn turtle or of coaches to propel into each other in case of an accident, says an expert who did not want to be named. "There would be less chance of fatalities," he added.
Further, these EMUs would prove cheaper than bullet trains.
An imported 24-coach train set costs $20 million or Rs.125 crore. But after they are manufactured in India, the price is likely to come down substantially.
In comparison, laying a bullet-train corridor could cost up to $16 million (Rs.100 crore) a kilometre, which would increase with the added infrastructure required for signals and other equipment.
The proposal for introducing train sets was first mooted in 2012 in the Railway Budget presented by Dinesh Trivedi. But nothing moved. Now Suresh Prabhu has given the move an impetus. 
The Chinese and Japanese are keen to launch their bullet trains in India. French Railways, SNCF, has also carried out the feasibility study for a bullet train between Mumbai and Ahmedabad. The government, though, has yet to give its nod to bullet trains.
(Ranjana Narayan can be contacted at [email protected])



D S Ranga Rao

2 years ago

Good move. Suresh Prabhu seems to be quite idealistic and realistic. India needs him and of his ilk.

Dilip Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan conferred with Padma Vibhushan
Cinema icons Dilip Kumar and Amitabh Bachchan were conferred with Padma Vibhushan -- India's second highest civilian honour -- by President Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday here.
The awards, announced on the eve of this year's Republic Day, were accorded at an investiture ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan here. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and several union ministers attendced the function.
Besides Padma Vibhushan, the president conferred honours in other categories of Padma awards, namely Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri.
Assamese director Jahnu Barua was awarded the Padma Bhushan for his contribution to art over the years. Barua, who has made National Award-winning films like "And the River Flows" and "Aparoopa" in his mother-tongue, has been doing social work in the northeast related to art and culture for the past six years.
While Amitabh Bachchan exuded elegance and sophistication in a black bandhgala, Dilip Kumar couldn't make it to the ceremony to receive the honour in person. 
Amitabh shared the news over Dilip Kumar's absence through micro-blogging website Twitter on Tuesday. He wrote: "@Amirmurt @TheDilipKumar he is unwell and shall not be there to receive his award...sad (sic)". 
The 72-year-old star, who is known as the "Shahenshah" of the Hindi silver screen, has delivered some exceptional performances in his over four decades long film career. 
With movies like "Deewar", "Agneepath", "Sholay", "Don", "Black" and "Paa", the actor has carved a special place for himself. Amitabh's wife Jaya Bachchan, son Abhishek Bachchan and daughter-in-law Aishwarya Rai attended the function. 
Dilip Kumar, whose real name is Yusuf Khan, became a name to reckon with in the 1950s and 1960s, thanks to his performance in "Aan", "Daag", "Devdas", "Madhumati","Paigham", "Mughal-E-Azam", "Ganga Jamuna", "Leader" and "Ram Aur Shyam".
After working for about six decades, he bid adieu to arclights in 1998. His last movie was "Qila".
The awards were given out in the third batch this year. The first was when former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was presented Bharat Ratna at his residence last month. 
The second investiture was held at Rashtrapati Bhavan on March 30, in which poet-lyricist Prasoon Joshi, filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali and other prominent people received the Padma awards.


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