A First Look at India’s New High Speed Trains

A First Look at India’s New High Speed Trains :Indian Railways is preparing to purchase twenty-five E5 Series Shinkansen trainsets from Japan for India’s first High Speed Rail (HSR) project, at an estimated cost that falls just short of 800 million USD.

The new trains will connect Mumbai, the capital city of the State of Maharashtra, with Ahmedabad, the second most populous metropolitan area in India, located in the State of Gujarat. The railway will run along the Arabian Sea coast with stops in Surat and Vadodara, respectively the second and third largest cities in the State of Gujarat. Potentially, the line can be extended from Ahmedabad to New Delhi and from Thane towards Pune and Bengaluru.

The new high speed corridor is currently expected to open to the public in 2023. The 508 km distance will be covered in only two hours and seven minutes. The fastest train currently operating between Mumbai Central and Ahmedabad Junction is the Duronto Express, which takes approximately 7 hours running non-stop between the two cities, at a maximum speed of 120 kph.

The E5 series, built by a consortium of Hitachi Rail and Kawasaki Heavy Industries, is operated by East Japan Railway Company (JR East) in 10 car trainsets on the Tōhoku Shinkansen line and on the Hokkaido Shinkansen line.

In June 2017 an unnamed senior Indian Railway Ministry official involved in the project provided the press with some insider information regarding the Shinkansen configuration to be utilized in India.

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So let’s take the Hokkaido Shinkansen as a reference and have a closer look at the E5 Series, in order to find out what Indian travelers should expect in the near future.

The train car body is built in an aluminum alloy that makes it lighter and allows it to travel up to a maximum speed of 320 km/h (200 mph). The train is 253 meters long, weighs 453.5 tons and is powered by overhead catenary. The rail track gauge is 1,435 mm.

The ten cars can carry a total of 731 seated passengers, in three distinct classes: Ordinary Class (658 seats), Green Car (55 seats) and Gran Class (18 seats).

According to the Ministry official the Indian configuration will have 698 Standard Class seats and 55 Business Class seats, effectively doing away with the Japanese Gran Class.

The Japanese Ordinary Class (equivalent to the Indian Standard Class) is organized in a 3+2 seating arrangement, with a seat pitch of 1,040 mm. Each seat features: an adjustable headrest; a table which folds out from the seat in front; a power outlet.

The Japanese Green Car (equivalent to the Indian Business Class) is organized in a 2+2 row seating arrangement, a seat pitch of 1,160 mm, seat width of 475 mm and a maximum reclining angle of 31 degrees. Each seat features: a large adjustable headrest that incorporates a reading light; a large table which folds out from the seat in front; a power outlet that allows plugging in a computer or a mobile phone while traveling; a tray for drinks that can be stowed away in the armrest.

The Japanese Gran Class, apparently eliminated in the Indian configuration, is designed to be even more comfortable and luxurious than the Green Car.

The Tōhoku Shinkansen Ordinary Class, Green Car and Gran Class interiors can be viewed with 360 degree panoramic imagery on Google Maps. It’s well worth having a look at them.

Google maps

In terms of on-board facilities the Shinkansen is designed to ensure a barrier-free and user-friendly travel experience.

The Indian configuration will see lavatories and urinals installed in alternate train cars: lavatories in cars number 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9; urinals in cars number 2, 4, 6 and 8. There will be separate lavatories for men and women.

There will be two large and accessible restrooms, fitting a toilet with improved handles to support electric wheelchair users and other physically-challenged customers.

One multipurpose room will be equipped with multi-functional furniture which can be folded into a cot bed and a bench — this space can be used for instance for changing or breastfeeding.

Low sinks and baby toilet seats will also be provided for children.

Women only lavatories will be equipped with triple mirrors, toilets with boards for changing clothing and more.

All cabins and restroom stalls will be equipped with emergency call devices for enhanced security. Security cameras will operate together with emergency call devices in all cabins.

Business class will provide special luggage space for passengers. The project was approved in May 2014 by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a meeting with the Chairman of the High Speed Rail Corporation of India, Satish Agnihotri. The feasibility study on the project was carried out in July 2015 by RITES, Italferr and Systra. The governments of India and Japan signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on 12 December 2015 to implement the corridor.

“PM Narendra Modi’s economic policies are like Shinkansen – high speed, safe and reliable and carrying many people along” – Japanese Premier Shinzo Abe, 12 December 2015

But India’s high speed vision does not end here, the country’s bright future is being planned today. The Diamond Quadrilateral project will establish an HSR network connecting the four Indian metro cities: Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai.

Google maps

Writer: John Carlo Ottaviani

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