NEW DELHI: The Railways has been going all-out in its efforts to introduce high-speed trains in the country but it is now struggling to run the semi-high speed train ‘Gatimaan Express’ on Delhi-Agra route due to safety issues owing to lack of fencing in stretches along the 200 km route.
There were reports that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was likely to flag off the train this week but Railways denied the same pending safety clearance.
The first trials on the route were held in July following which the Railways had upgraded about 16 speed restriction areas and curves on the entire route to improve the speed at a cost of `15 crore.
An area of 27 km along track has been fenced off to prevent obstruction and ensure speed. Trails were again held in September last and the route was slated to be opened in November. “We have completed fencing wherever it was needed and other issues raised have been addressed. Now, clearance of the Safety Commissioner is awaited,” said a railway official, adding, there were threats from stray animals and barricading has been done in stretches with high density population near some stations along the route.
Sources in the ministry said that the Commissioner of Railway Safety still has some issues and those have been conveyed to the Railways. The train will not be given a green signal until the public sector giant completes all the necessary requirements to ensure the safety of the passengers.
Gatimaan Express would take an estimated 105 minutes to cover the distance between Delhi-Agra while touching a top speed of 160 kmph. It will be half-an-hour less than the time taken by trains now. Presently, the fastest train in India is New Delhi-Bhopal Shatabdi Express which runs at a speed of 150 kmph. Besides Delhi-Agra, the speed of train is scheduled to be increased to 160 kmph on Delhi-Chandigarh, Delhi-Kanpur, Nagpur-Bilaspur, Mysore-Bengaluru-Chennai, Mumbai-Goa, Mumbai-Ahmedabad; Chennai- Hyderabad and Nagpur-Secunderabad routes.
The Railways has also conducted feasibility study on Mumbai-Ahmedabad corridor to start bullet trains.