Operating Speed of Indian Railways
We the people of India do hereby solemnly affirm that we would spend most of our time traveling.
This is motto with which most of us start our day . Particularly the passengers commuting through suburban and long distance trains. Speed of the trains has always been an issue with Indian Railways . Even if the train has a top speed of couple of hundred of kilometers , it still fares pretty badly when it comes to the Operating Speed of Indian Railways due to the long and too many stoppages, congestion, fogs, huge rush of passengers and many other factors.
Each one of us spends almost one-third of our life traveling , which if utilized judiciously could bring miracles. Majority of us cannot afford air travel and rely heavily on the railways and that’s the sole reason , Indian Railways is called as the backbone of the economy. In fact there used to be a budget separately for the Railways in spite of it being one of the government departments. The trend has now been discontinued from 2017-18 budget onwards .
Here we can find the graphical representation of the operating speed of the fastest train around the world. Our Railways has a lot of effort to put in this direction.
Data Credit: http://www.goeuro.com/trains
China tops the list with an operating speed of 350 kmph. Inspite of Japan having the fasted train on the planet , China has managed to maintain a constant high speed and be at the top of the chart. Next on the list is Japan with an operating speed of 320 kmph. This position is shared with Spain , Germany and France. South Korea, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium and Taiwan has an operating speed of 300 kmph. Next are Russia , Turkey and Uzbekistan with an operating speed of 250 kmph. USA , Austria, Finland, Portugal, Norway, Poland and Sweden have an operating speed ranging from 200 kmph to 240 kmph. India on the bottom of the list , has the fastest of it’s train with an operating speed of 113 kmph.
By operating speed we mean the average speed of the train throughout the journey.
Take the case of the most admired VIP train of India, The Rajdhani Express, the longest Rajdhani runs between Trivandrum and H.Nizamuddin covering a distance of 3149 kms in around 41 hrs, that’s an average speed of 76.8 kmph and has a top speed of 140 kmph . Or have a look at Gatimaan Express, fastest in India with top speed of 160 kmph, travels 188 kms in 1 hr 40 min, that’s an average speed of around 113 kmph. Now compare with China , the top country on the chart(you know they always say to compare with the best ). Train G79 from Beijing to Guangzhou , covers a distance of 2298 kilometers in about 8 hours, that’s an average speed of 287.8 kmph with a top speed of 350 kmph. So we are nowhere near the half way mark.
The low operating speed of trains of Indian Railways can be attributed to various factors.
Few of them are:
1. Heavy Congestion on the network
2. Lack of dedicated corridors
3. Slow modernization
4. Lack of complete automation
5. A lot of the inspection and maintenance is still labor intensive.
6. Slow Expansion
7. Long stoppage time at stations.
8. Engine changeover at stations.
9. Design of trains
10. Shortage of funds
11. Political interference in the functioning of railways.
By reducing the stoppage time at the stations , the Railways can increase the operating speed of it’s trains to a considerable amount. But still then a lot of factors come into play.Surely we are moving forward but the pace at which it is being done is too slow and the speed needs to be accelerated.