The low-cost semi high-speed trains (running at an average speed of 140 kmph) will be on track in a couple of months from now if the railways gets the safety clearances for the 200-km Delhi-Agra route on July 3.
The final trial run on the popular tourist route, the travel time for which would be reduced from 150 minutes to 90 minutes, would be conducted on Thursday.
Semi high-speed train networks on several other routes (Delhi-Chandigarh, Delhi-Lucknow and Delhi-Bhopal) are also being planned and are likely to find mention in the Modi government's maiden rail Budget on July 8.
Upgrading the existing infrastructure for the semi high-speed trains is estimated to cost of Rs 2.5 crore per km. This is much lower than the cost of around Rs 200 crore per km for building high-speed rail networks.The railways plans to run one or two trains per day on the route with a premium fare structure. The existing rolling stock and infrastructure will be used for these trains and only the system will be modified, said a senior official in the Railway Board.
On Delhi-Agra route, the railways has already done the work of removing the level-crossing and fencing on select routes. The work on installing a fully-automated signaling system, providing real-time traffic movement, and upgrading the bridges is also in full swing.
According to sources, in order to introduce the proposed semi high-speed railways in a time-bound manner, the railway Board has set in motion plans including creation of a new train protection warning system (TPWS), upgradation of existing bridges and railway lines, elimination of level crossings and fencing in thickly populated locations along the routes selected.
According to the sources, the existing rolling stock has the capability, after certain modifications, to run high-speed trains of the kind being planned even for longer routes.