Maglev costs in comparison to bullet train key to former’s success

Maglev costs in comparison to bullet train key to former’s success :Can the Magnetic Levitation (MagLev) technology the railways wants to introduce in the country’s creaking rail network be as economical as construction and operation of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail, commonly called the bullet train project? It is this aspect that will be the key factor of success for the MagLev thrust, said top railway officials.

As per the Memorandum of Understanding between the railways and the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train will cost Rs 97636 crores for the 508km route. This makes the cost of the project per kilometer for the bullet train at Rs 192 crores.

“This is the key point. Can the MagLev network be created at similar costs? Can we build a 500km line at say Rs 1 lakh crores. Anything above this and the costs would make the MagLev economically unfeasible. Infact the MagLev was not commercialised much in most of the technologically advanced nations for much the same reason. It gets costly beyond a point,” said an official.

While the MagLev can touch speeds of 500kmph and beyond, certain section of officials said that these are the kinds of speeds which the railways is not ready for. “We are at a stage where our superfast trains run at a speed of 55kmph and the Rajdhani at around 85kmph. So what we must be looking at is technology that will cost-effectively increase the speed of our trains on trunk routes to about 200kmph. There is no point spending massive money for a standalone MagLev network at 500kmph,” explained an official. Recently Japan managed to run a Maglev train at over 600kmph during a test, which is a world record for a train’s highest speed.

As reported earlier, six firms (see box) had answered the Railway’s Expression of Interest for Levitation-Based Train Systems which the railways had put out on August 3. DNA in its July 4 edition had front-paged an article on how Railways planned to make bullet train coaches and Maglev trains.The two plans were discussed extensively under the ‘Future Readiness’ module of the Indian Railways’ Chief Mechanical Engineers Conference held at Ooty in Tamil Nadu recently. Over 45 of the railway top mechanical engineering officers attended the conference.
The 6 who have been shortlisted:

1) Agile Setu Private Limited, Surat

2) Medha Servo Drives Private Limited, Hyderabad

3) American Maglev Technology Inc, Georgia, United States

4) Swissrapide AG, Technopark, Zurich, Switzerland

5) Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited, New Delhi

6) Sharad Marathe, Gurgaon, Haryana


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