Indian Railways is putting the finishing touches on an acquisition plan for obtaining three hundred lightweight aluminium coaches. The coaches are intended to reduce travel time between cities.
The plan is part of an initiative launched by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu to make passenger and freight travel on the rails faster. Named the Raftaar Mission, the ministry has determined that lightweight rolling stock is a simple but effective method for increasing speed on existing trunk routes that are crowded at the present time.
“Instead of steel coaches, use of aluminium coaches seems to be the future now as the railways will gradually go for the light-weight material for faster journey on existing tracks,” said a senior Railway Ministry official, adding, “A global tender will be floated shortly for this.”
In a recent test the aluminium cars built by Spanish rolling-stock manufacturer Talgo and hitched to an Indian locomotive traversed the 860 miles between Delhi and Mumbai in under twelve hours. This bests the fastest train that travels the route by four hours.
“We are proposing to acquire 300 aluminium coaches to begin with which means about 15 trains with 20 coaches each can be pressed on inter-city routes such as Delhi-Kanpur and Delhi-Lucknow,” said the official.
Although Talgo rolling stock was used for the above test, the official said that the procurement will be made through the open tendering process, and any party may submit a bid.
As to whether the Ministry is planning to adopt Talgo’s tilting technology in order to preserve speed in turns on the route, the official said, “We are examining every aspect. A decision will be taken before floating the global tender.”
He went on to explain that the Talgo design would need to be modified to fit India’s rail system by increasing track width and footboard height.