Railway Minister Inaugurates International Seminar on High Speed Trains Need for Developing an Appropriate Financial Model for High Speed Train SERVICES which is Truly inclusive and A win-win for All Stakeholders: Pawan Kumar Bansal

railways logoThe Minister of Railways Shri Pawan Kumar Bansal inaugurated a two day ‘International Seminar’ on “High Speed Trains in India-Issues & Options” being organised by Institute of Railway Electrical Engineers (IREE), here today. The Minister of State for Railways Shri Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and Chairman, Railway Board, Shri Vinay Mittal were present on the occasion.

Speaking on the occasion, the Minister of Railways Shri Pawan Kumar Bansal said that in view of growing economy there is a need to constantly improve infrastructure and address the issues of mobility of people. It is necessary to keep pace with the latest developments taking place world over in Railway sector and technology. Referring to his own experience of high-speed train travel in Japan, Korea and France, the Minister said it is high time to think of such rail projects in India as well. The rapid urbanization, growing economy, rising level of educated work force and higher levels of income margins has caused greater growth in intercity travel both for business and personal reasons. Hence, high speed train services may be required to fulfill the demand gap for faster intercity and inter-regional movement of passenger traffic.

The Minister pointed out that six corridors have been identified for techno-economic feasibility studies. The pre-feasibility reports, in respect of these identified corridors are at various stages of preparation and study. Government has already identified Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed corridor, as the pilot project of this kind. A Project Steering Group has been constituted which is examining the options available for this project and finalizing feasible options and also suggesting mechanisms for quickly moving forward. He said that this project needs an estimated Rs. 63,000 crore of investment and it is really a challenging task and the experts will have to work on a financial model which will be win–win situation for all stakeholders. While these high speed services are premium services but in the Indian context a model needs to be worked out which makes it more affordable to bulk of the customers so that the introduction of high speed rail system in India becomes truly inclusive.

The Railway Minister hoped that the Seminar with the participation from national and international experts will yield useful recommendations and discuss all relevant issues and all options available on the subject of high speed train services especially in the Indian context. Shri Pawan Kumar Bansal also inaugurated an exhibition organised by IREE on the occasion.

Speaking on the occasion, the Minister of State for Railways Shri Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said that Indian Railway has undertaken a massive journey from the steam engine era to electric engine era and has introduced many modern technological developments in its operations. In view of growth in traffic and economy and the consequent demand for faster inter city travel, there is now need to introduce high-speed train services. In this context six corridors have so far been identified by Indian Railways for high-speed trains and the Government has now taken Mumbai-Ahemdabad high speed corridor in the first phase. Shri Chowdhury said that there could be more high-speed corridors in this vast country which may be identified and the 12th Plan has also included high-speed projects. He said that this Seminar will through up precious inputs in this field and yield significant results which will pave the way for implementing high-speed train services in India.

Chairman, Railway Board, Shri Vinay Mittal said that from the beginning made by the Japanese with the Tokaido-Shinkansen High Speed Line, we have come a long way with now 15 countries where High Speed trains of 300 kmph and more are running. Seven more countries are under advance stage of planning to introduce High Speed trains. Indian Railways have also identified some Corridors and commenced some pre-feasibility studies. Referring to the advantages of high-speed trains Shri Mittal said that the economic and social impacts of High Speed rail have been well documented world over. He pointed out that these trains have improved accessibility, resulted in substantial savings of time and thereby enhancing productivity, attracted new economic activities, resulted in better land use, reduction in accident rate and generating additional capacity for railway systems. There is now a need to develop an appropriate financial model which enhances the expansion of such trains in developing countries, Shri Mittal added.

Delivering key note address, Member Electrical, Railway Board and Patron, Institution of Railway Electrical Engineers Shri Kul Bhushan said that the need for the introduction of high speed railways in India, not only stems from the rapid demand growth in inter-city passenger segment travel; but also out of the need to curtail over dependence of this nation on imported fossil fuel and the resultant environmental effect. Shri Kul Bhushan said that land has become a scarce resource in the country. High speed rail systems are mostly built on elevated pathways, requiring negligible land, as compared to 6-lane highways. From the international operational experience, high speed railways have the highest performance of safety, as compared to any other mode of mass repaid transportation system because of the factors like absence of level crossing or any type of obstruction on the pathways, advanced signaling and communication, improved track and rolling stock.

The two day Seminar would provide an opportunity to manufactures, developers, policy makers, various Government agencies, technical experts and stake holders to discuss and review the present status on Indian Railways on existing routes and look for new technologies for high speed traction in India. Concepts discussed and exhibited at this seminar will help achieve synergy in thought and action across users, suppliers and utilities.

The seminar will also help evolve appropriate policies to make efficient technologies competitive. This is significant in the back drop of liberlisation that facilities technology import and set-up of industries in India. Recommendations from a panel of exports will be drawn for framing strategies of acquisition of new technologies.

International and national railway agencies having experience in development of high speed passenger rail system, research and development institution, solution providers, industries, project developers and individual experts are participating and sharing their knowledge and experience through papers and presentations in this seminar. Delegates from IR, PSUs, industries and abroad will get immense benefits out of the deliberations of seminar.

During the seminar there will be five sessions namely Issues and Operations for Indian Railways, Development of High Speed Passenger Rail Projects, Emerging Trends in High Speed Rail Systems World Wide, Technology Options for Dedicated High Speed Passenger Rail Systems and Financing Models & Commercial Sustainability, Economic, Social, Environmental aspects of High Speed Passenger Rail Projects.

Established in the year 1995, the Institution of Railway Electrical Engineers (IREE/India), the organizer of this seminar, is a body of professionals of eminent electrical engineering discipline from a railways and railway related industries, committed to the application of technology advancements in railways. Amongst several of its activities, the institution has in the past organized exhibitions and International & National seminars for facilitating interaction and discussions and other innovative means to further technology progress on Indian Railways. These activities have direct impact on Railway customs in particular & society in general.

Shri Raj Kumar, Addl. Member (Electrical), Railway Board and President (IREE) delivered welcome address and Shri Mehtab Singh, Honorary General Secretary, IREE & Chief Electrical Engineer (Northern Railway) proposed the vote of thanks.