Spanish train company Talgo is conducting trial runs in India in a bid to become part of the Indian government’s project to modernize the nation’s railway network.
Indian authorities are working in partnership with local and foreign private firms to invest around $137 billion in a plan to overhaul the system over the next five years.
Talgo, which specializes in high-speed trains, began its last series of tests on Monday night to try to reduce the travel time between New Delhi and Mumbai from the current 17 hours to 13 hours or less, a government spokesman told the Efe news agency.
A decision has not been made yet, nor is it underway. When the tests are completed, we will see
Anil Kumar, Indian government spokesperson
Ultimately, the Talgo arrived three hours behind schedule due to heavy rains that created waterlogged conditions, the Indian Express reported. Talgo will conduct new trial runs on August 5, 9 and 14.
For now, these tests do not guarantee that Talgo will secure a contract.
“A decision has not been made yet, nor is it underway. When the tests are completed, we will see,” said Anil Kumar, spokesperson for the Indian Ralway Ministry.
India has the largest railway network in the world, with around 65,000 kilometers of track that carry a daily average of 23 million passengers. But the system is old and trains travel at low speeds on most of the routes.
The government wants to speed up travel times, since railway transportation is viewed as an essential element to the country’s development.
The train that Talgo is using for its trial runs can travel at 150km/h, runs on diesel and has a 4.500HP locomotive to haul its nine coaches, which include two executive class cars and a cafeteria.
The Spanish company is trying to prove that its trains, which are lighter than Indian ones, can travel at higher speeds without the need to change existing tracks. Currently, India’s fastest train is the Gatimaan Express, which can reach speeds of 160 km/h but only travels between Delhi and Agra, home of the Taj Mahal.
Talgo CEO José María Oriol met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year, and the company began the first of three tests in May. At the July trial, it managed to beat the speed record by clocking 180km/h over a stretch of 84 km in northern India, between Mathura and Palwal.
The Economic Times of India has been covering Talgo’s trial runs, and noting that besides the higher speeds, these light trains also consume 30% less energy.
“Today’s successful achievement is a major milestone in the history of railways and it takes us closer to our dreams of having high-speed train service on the existing railway tracks,” Dilip Kumar Singh, additional divisional railway manager (ADRM) of Agra, told the Economic Times when the Gatimaan Express record was broken.
English version by Susana Urra.