Source: The Economic Times, Dec 12, 2016
NEW DELHI: A Delhi-Mumbai highspeed train that runs four hours faster than the prestigious Rajdhani Express may be a reality early next year as the Indian Railwaysis poised to lease two rakes from Spain’s Talgo that can run much faster on the same track.
Talgo Chief Executive José María Oriol, who was in India last week, told ET the proposal for leasing rakes that can complete the 1,384 km journey in less than 12 hours was discussed with the Railway Board. He said the company was ready to manufacture in India if it gets a contract.
Officials said the government may go for a three-year lease for the Spanishmade rakes. “In principle, we want to get two rakes on immediate basis,” a top railway official said on condition of anonymity.”
However, the innovation committee of Niti Aayog has to approve it. We could acquire a preferential technology without going through the bids as well given that the innovation committee approves it.”
One rack of Rajdhani train has 24 coaches. The official said the railway ministry was optimistic of Niti Aayog’s approval given that the train would give immediate benefits to the national transporter, which has been losing passengers to airlines in the recent past. Approval from the railways’ commissioner-safety would also be required to run the Talgo trains on Indian tracks.
“Instead of purchasing coaches, we could take them on lease by signing a lease agreement with Talgo for a period of three years,” a senior railway board official said. “The payment could be released annually. However, we will get into any further discussion on the lease amount with them only when we get an approval from the innovation committee of Niti Aayog,” a senior railway board official said.
Talgo has already conducted successful trial runs on the Delhi-Mumbai route. Getting two rakes of Talgo would cost the railways Rs 3.5 crore per coach and no expenditure would have to be made to upgrade the current infrastructure. A coach of Rajdhani costs around Rs 2.5 crore. “Talgo coach is just a crore higher but with that we will be able to increase our average speed by almost 35 kmph,” the official added. Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has set the target of increasing the average train speed by almost 30 kmph in the next three years.
Depending largely on the advantage of its technology, Talgo is willing to enter India, which it says is a large market for the company. Talgo would be interested in setting up its manufacturing base in India, but that will depend on the size of the contract. “For the long term, we understand that in order to be successful in this market, you need to establish here, and we need to establish a factory and produce as much as possible in India because of the advantage in cost. But in order to establish here, you need to have a contract,” Talgo CEO José María Oriol said.
Oriol had a meeting with the railway minister earlier this week. Talgo has already communicated to the Indian Railways that it is willing to retrofit its existing coaches as per Indian specifications for any immediate requirement by the Railway Board. “What we propose is that we are open and keen to enter into this market. We are respectful of all the different rules, so what we are expecting is that purchasing is made in whatever process is proposed by the Indian Railways,” Oriol added.