Indian Railways moves ahead on Maglev trains project
New Delhi: Moving ahead with the introduction of the high-speed Maglev (magnetic levitation) trains in the country, the Indian Railways has asked Rail India Technical and Economic Service (RITES) to prepare a detailed project report within the next six months. The railways aims to implement the first stretch of the project in less than three years’ time.
“We would be very closely associated with RITES as they would collect all the required data after which we would together do the analysis of the sufficiently high clientele sectors where Maglev can be implemented,” said Nitin Chowdhary, executive director, mechanical engineering (development), ministry of railways.
Maglev trains which run at a minimum speed of 350 km per hour (kmph) and maximum 500kmph without touching the ground are based on the magnetic levitation technology wherein the train is elevated 1 to 6 inches above the ground through a system of magnets thereby making the train move frictionless at high speeds.
The project would be implemented on a PPP (public-private partnership) basis as a joint venture between the railways and a private company wherein the railways would contribute 26% of the equity.
“Two private companies can also form a JV within themselves but the resultant JV would have to in turn work with us in a joint venture by sharing the technology for the project and not be our competition instead,” explained Chowdhary.
According to Chowdhary, the objective is to have a core incubator group with a mandate to develop Maglevs in India. The group will brainstorm with the industry as well as the railways. The close knit group will also oversee the development of the Evacuated Tube Transport (ETT) for freight which would run along the Maglev trains.
Refuting the notion that Maglev would be too expensive a project to generate positive returns, Chowdhary said, “Developing Maglevs won’t be as expensive as people are thinking it to be since we have spoken to a lot of vendors about it and it seems doable.”
He added that for people the priority has shifted towards saving time and if Maglev can provide that with high-end quality service, then passengers will be willing to spend a higher fare amount.
In September this year, six companies, including Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd and Switzerland-based SwissRapide AG, had evinced interest in developing Maglevs in India. The railways had invited expressions of interest for Maglev trains in July this year.