The Railway Ministry's biggest challenge as far as trains is concerned in 2017 would be to clear the deadlock in which it finds its two most ambitious projects— the procurement of the much-hyped Spanish Talgo rakes and the purchase of the high-speed trainsets to replace the current Rajdhanis and Shatabdi services.
The reason, according to officials in the know, is that only if the paperwork is completed this year would the two sets of trains arrive and be commissioned in time to showcase for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
According to railway officials, the first two trainsets would be imported off-the-shelf while the rest would be made in India. Similarly the Talgo rake can be purchased outright or taken on lease. Both the trains will require customisation as per railway requirements which would take the firms almost two years, officials said.
"The shine of the ministry under Suresh Prabhu has dimmed a lot with the spate of derailments and accidents, especially the Indore-Patna Express accident at Patna that killed over 150. The ministry requires some quick-fixes to regain its reputation and nothing better than some fancy high-speed trains. We all know how much the trials of the Talgo caught the imagination of the media, the social networks as well as the common commuter," explained an official.
The dilemma with both the Talgo as well as the 15 trainsets the railways wants to buy is that the ministry cannot fathom what should be the optimum speed capacity of the rakes. "Buy trainsets with a speed of 200kmph and then running it at lower speeds due to track limitations of 130-160kmph wouldn't be wise. Moreover, by the time the tracks are upgraded- which might take anything between five to eight years- it would be possible to get better technology trainsets at the same cost or lesser," explained the official.
In fact a three member committee that was set up in November to decide on the Talgo rake is yet to submit its report despite its mandate being 'submitting the report at the earliest', explained an official from the Railway Board. The three members of the committee are the Additional Members of the Civil, Mechanical and Budget stream of the Railway Board.
While Member (Rolling Stock), Railway Board, Ravindra Gupta was in a meeting and could not be contacted despite repeated attempts, messages sent to railway board chief spokesperson Anil Saxena elicited no replies.
Source - DNA