‘Mission Raftaar’ of Indian Railway Starts To Yield Results
The Mission Raftaar project of the Indian Railways has now picked up and started yielding results. Under this project measures are being taken to raise average speed of both passenger carrying trains and freight carrying trains. The Mission is being spearheaded by a cross disciplinary mobility Directorate in the Railway Board. The average speed is reckoned as one of the key indicators of all the railway productivity and efficiency in operations and utilization of assets.
Under this project the busiest Ghaziabad – Allahabad – Mughalsarai route which was taken up on priority basis, for increasing average speed which now has been successfully implemented. This was achieved by replacement of loco hauled commuter trains with Main line Electric Multiple Units (MEMU) and Diesel Electric Multiple Units (DEMU) trains has been undertaken. MEMU / DEMU trains have a potential for average speed increment upto 20 kmph in comparison to loco driven passenger trains. The Ghaziabad – Allahabad – Mughalsarai section is now free from conventional trains.
The Railway Ministry is working on a target to do this kind of replacement on all identified routes viz., Delhi – Mumbai, Delhi –Howrah, Howrah-Chennai, Chennai – Mumbai, Delhi – Chennai and Howrah – Mumbai (Diamond Quadrilateral routes along with diagonals). These are the principal routes of the railways as they carry 58% of freight traffic and 52 of coaching traffic with a share of only 15 of the network.
For implementing this target on the above six routes, 1048 MEMU coaches and 136 DEMU coaches are required. To achieve this target in three years, action plan has been drawn out to ramp up the production of MEMU to 400-500 per annum in next three years as against the present level 190 per year at present.
- Maximum speed of coaching trains has increased up to 130 kmph/160 kmph, but the average speed is hovering around 45 kmph. Maximum speed of freight trains has increased up to 75 kmph/100 kmph, but the average speed is hovering around 24 kmph.
- Average coaching train speeds have declined by ~1 kmph in last 5 years. Average freight train speeds have declined by ~2 kmph in last 5 years.
We reckon average speed as one of the key indicator of the overall railway productivity and efficiency in operations and utilization of assets. Hence, raising average speeds has been taken up as a mission area.
Progress and Road Map:
- A cross disciplinary, Mobility directorate has been set up in April 2016 to spearhead the mission.
- For a focused action, Golden Quadrilateral routes along with diagonals (Delhi – Mumbai, Delhi – Howrah, Howrah- Chennai, Chennai – Mumbai, Delhi – Chennai and Howrah – Mumbai) have been taken up for initial emphasis. These are the principal routes of the railways as they carry 58% of freight traffic and 52% of coaching traffic with a share of only 15% of the network.
- Multi-pronged strategy has been developed to overcome the existing impediments due to fixed infrastructure, movable infrastructure, operational practices and institutional mechanisms.
Thrust of the strategy:
- To move in the direction in which these routes are developed in a unified way making them seamless and free from congestion points. So far such development works have been largely guided and governed by needs of individual division/ zone due to which the works were dispersed/ distributed/ discontinuous and speed gain commensurate to the inputs could not be realized.
- To establish operating systems in which the trains technically have the best capability to achieve maximum possible speed in least time along with quickest acceleration and deceleration capability so that the transit time is reduced.
- Replacement of loco hauled commuter trains with MEMU/DEMU trains: MEMU trains have a potential for average speed increment of up to 20 kmph in comparison to loco driven passenger trains. Recently, the busiest Ghaziabad- Allahabad – Mughalsarai route has been made free from conventional trains by replacement by MEMU. The punctuality of this route has shown significant improvement.
- Target is to do replacement on all routes. We require 1048 MEMU coaches and 136 DEMU coaches to implement this on these six routes. To achieve this target in three years, action plan has been drawn out to ramp up the production of MEMU to 400-500 per annum in next three years as against the present level 190 per year at present.
- Introduction of Twin Pipe Air Brake System on freight trains: Twin piped braking system saves on an average ~90 seconds in every event of braking. Hence over a long distance this feature in the trains has a big potential for reducing the transit time and accelerating average speed. Board has decided that all new freight stock will have twin pipe system and the existing stock will be retrofitted with twin pipe. About 2lac wagons have to be retrofitted. 7000 will be done in the current year. Approval for another 20000 has been done, which is under process of sanction. In the budget 2017-18 sanction for another 60000 wagons will be planned. Effort will be made to achieve the target by accelerating the progress.
- Right Powering of freight trains: Ratio of Horsepower of the locomotive to the trailing load of the train. (HP/TL ratio). Appropriate HP/TL ratio saves about 10 to 12 minutes in the time taken to attain the maximum speed level. Internationally this ratio is between 2-2.25. On Indian Railways, due to increase in trailing load from 2400 ton/3200 ton in year 1970 to 5308 ton in year 2016, HP/TL ratio has dropped from a level of 1-1.30 to a level of 0.94-1.13 over the same period. Board has decided to implement a powering arrangement for freight trains with a ratio of 1.5-2.0. Action plan is being finalized for achieving the implementation in next three years.
Review of time table:
- To avoid traction change and loco reversals at busy stations/ terminals.
- Increase time tabled average speed by eliminating slacks and taking into account speed increases which have taken place on the section
- Review of coaching trains and freight stocks running at less than maximum permissible speeds
- Removal of constraints in the fixed infrastructure on these routes is considered a high priority. These routes are having about 9100 route kilometres. Major impediments have been identified and following areas have been finalized for focused action.
- Raising of Sectional Speed to minimum 130 kmph: Out of 9100 route km, 6400 km (~70%) is having sectional speed of less than 130 kmph.
- Removal of Level Crossings: There are 2736 level crossings on 9100 route km averaging one LC every 3-4 km. 931 are already sanctioned for elimination.
- Removal of Speed Restrictions: On these routes, there are speed restrictions at about 730 locations existing since long due to various factors pertaining to design and maintenance of fixed assets. There is a restriction every 15 km on these routes.
- Raising of Speeds on Turnouts: At present ~10% turnouts on these routes have a speed of less than 30 kmph and all are less than 50kmph.
Strategy and institutional mechanism for implementation:
We have decided for a paradigm shift in approach to works. Route to be the primary unit for decision about works as against existing practice of zonal/ divisional jurisdiction. This fundamental shift will prove to be a game changer for achieving unified development of the routes essential for achieving Mission Raftaar goals.
Key Elements of the decision:
- Planning and Sanction of Works: Only one work for each route clubbing all activities. Works to be planned centrally.
- Financing: Works to be financed through EBR-IF as there is high likelihood of favourable ROR on the route basis.
- Execution: Route wise execution. The work of each route to be entrusted to one execution authority for accountability and expeditious execution by deploying state-of-the-art engineering technology/machines. There is a big role of technology in saving the execution time and minimizing the requirement of interruption to train flow in traffic block. This is very important because chosen routes are very busy hence the objective will be to cause minimum inconvenience to the passengers and setback to operations. A Traffic Block Optimization System on an IT platform is being developed to provide a congenial environment for execution of works required to achieve mission goals.
Board has decided to implement this approach initially on Delhi – Mumbai and Delhi- Howrah routes.
- Human capital is our key resource. Thrust will be given to training, skill development of the staff involved in operations and maintenance of assets so that they maintain pace with the new machines and technology.