Vande Bharat from Bengaluru to Chennai, Kovai a long shot
CHENNAI: Officials of Southern Railway fear that the proposal of the South Western Railway to operate Vande Bharat trains from Bengaluru to Chennai and Coimbatore anywhere in Tamil Nadu or the entire Southern Railway (SR) is a long shot.
Their scepticism is driven by lack of infrastructure, which does not permit operation of Vande Bharat express trains capable of clocking 180kmph.
SR officials told DT Next on condition of anonymity that the tracks in the zone and most of India are designed and fit to operate trains only up to a maximum of 110 kmph.
Operation of high speed trains require a comprehensive overhaul of the tracks and upgrade of infrastructure like elimination of sharp curves on the high speed section, a senior SR officer disclosed.
“Southwestern railway has sent the proposal based on demand and existing passenger traffic. ICF has just rolled out the first set of the latest VB express. It has been put on trial in the north on a route capable of handling 180kmph. The board knows that permitting VB operation on the two routes is not good business,” an SR officer said.
“What is the point in operating a VB express train at 110kmph on the two routes? First, ICF must roll out enough rakes for testing and operation on the high speed corridor in the north, which is high on the government’s priority. Then, the Ministry will consider Southwestern Railway’s proposal, ” the officer added.
“Operation of such trains also requires other infrastructure like maintenance. We were contacted. We apprised the possibility of maintaining the VB trains at Basin Bridge train care centre (BBQ). But that is not sufficient. The work is still in the stage of infancy. But, if the Railway Board approves and advises us to fast track the works, we will get going. Even then it is too early to think about train operation now, ” another SR officer said.