Indian Railways.

INDIA: The Delhi – Chandigarh line is to be upgraded to permit ‘semi-high speed’ operation at speeds up to 200 km/h, Indian Railways has announced. Reference design studies will now be undertaken with a view to calling a design and build tender by the end the year.

The 245 km route is one of the busiest in northern India, with 100 trains a day and current ridership of 40 million passengers/year predicted to increase by 4% annually.

The decision to upgrade the line for 200 km/h operation follows a study funded jointly by the Indian and French governments and undertaken in partnership with SNCF and its subsidiary Systra under a December 2015 agreement. This looked at three options for the route:

  • 160 km/h running, requiring minimum investment;
  • 180 km/h running, to give a 2 h journey time;
  • 200 km/h running, using modern electric multiple-units.

Welcoming the Indian Railways announcement, SNCF said on April 13 that it believed the 200 km/h upgrade would be a ‘significant investment’ which would ‘save considerable time for passengers and deliver the greatest benefits to local communities’.

The project would involve traffic segregation, the introduction of new EMUs and new operations and maintenance standards. SNCF said the project would greatly enhance Indian Railways’ knowhow for future upgrades, with up to 6 400 route-km being considered for semi-high speed upgrading.