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New Delhi: India finally has a train that can run at around 180 km/hr. That’s the speed reached by the Spanish Talgo trains that Indian Railways is testing. Some Railway employees say the train is light-weight and scores higher on safety parameters—better, they add, than the trains used to run Railways flagship services, the Rajdhani Express and the Shatabdi Express.

Vijay Kumar, Executive Director Infra (Mechanical) at Railways who was responsible for the first semi-high-speed train Gatimaan and is overseeing the trials of Talgo says the initiative reflects the transformation at Indian Railways. He speaks of the light-weight composition of Talgo trains, their energy efficiency, and the smooth ride, courtesy fewer wheels, and no axles.

During the first phase of trials, the nine coach train with two executive class cars, four chair cars, a cafeteria, a power car and a tail-end coach for staff and equipment covered a 90 km distance in 70 minutes. It touched the speed of 110-155 km/hr. These trials were done in May.

In the ongoing second phase of trials between Mathura to Palwal, the train has managed to touch speeds of 180 km/hr. However, the real test will come when the train runs between Delhi and Mumbai in less than 12 hours—the claim made by the Spanish Company.

Kumar explains that Spanish company was the first to approach Railways.

However, railway board officials are divided on Talgo trains. A senior board member who spoke on condition of anonymity said: “A company is coming and selling us a 37-year-old technology and we are releasing it as one of the best ever-made available to India. We can’t take a decision on introducing Talgo trains till we do such experiments with more companies."

Indian Railways is hoping that the very fact that it is running trials of high-speed trains will attract more companies keen to show their wares.

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