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News Entry# 289101
  
Dec 19 2016 (18:05)  The long road for Talgo (www.dnaindia.com)
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News Entry# 289101   Blog Entry# 2097505     
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Posted by: For Better Managed Indian Railways~  948 news posts
On September 11, 2016, the Spanish Talgo train completed its final trial run between Delhi and Munbai in just under 12 hours. So, is Talgo about to change the Indian railway experience?
What exactly is the deal with the Talgo train from Spain that the railways tried on its tracks- with massive media hype- between May and September? The truth is that we are as far as buying a Talgo train now as we were when the trials had not even started. On December 2, replying to a query in Parliament, minister of state for railways Rajen Gohain said it in as many words. His exact words- 'the trial was limited to assessment of timing and detailed technical assessment with regard to
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complete compatibility with Indian Railway's fixed infrastructure and other requirements was outside the scope of the trial. No decision has been taken for the purchase of these coaches.'The Railways, after all the hype and hoopla, has tied itself in more than a few knots when it comes to the purchase of these Spanish trains.
Parliament's nod for aluminium trains:
The Talgo rakes are made of aluminium, a completely new material to make rakes as far as India is concerned. We in India make rakes with corten steel- used in the older Integral Coach Factory Chennai coaches- or stainless steel, used in the new LHB coaches made mainly in the Rail Coach Factory Kapurthala.The usage of aluminium will require a fresh sanction from Parliament and also a detailed study of how the material would perform in Indian conditions, especially the varied climatic conditions in which our trains run. Both of these could take time, said officials in the know.
The tender question:
Moreover the purchase of these rakes would require the railways to call a tender as buying it from a single firm without giving others a chance might give rise to accusations the railways could do without, said officials. "Calling of tenders itself could take a lot of time because these would be tenders running into several hundred crores. They will have to be vetted by various departments and the criteria involved will have to be such that other train manufacturers also get a fair chance if they want to participate. There can be no custom-made tender for Talgo trains," explained a retired top railway official. To get things into perspective, a contract won in Spain by Talgo on November 28 this year will see the first of its trainsets coming into service only 38 months later.
The maintenance muddle:
The other hitch is that it would be almost impossible for the railways to buy these Talgo rakes off-the-shelf because the Spanish firm generally sells rakes with a clause that it maintains the rake exclusively for the remainder of its life. This, according to railway officials, would almost certainly be rejected because the railways has so far been learning new technology by maintaining stock from manufacturers as diverse as Alstom, Bombardier, Siemens and EMD.
However Subodh Jain, former Member Engineering said that currently the worldwide practice is that manufacturers provide scheduled maintenance. "Daily examination and cleaning is done by the operator (the railways). We maintain our stock because we manufacture it," Jain added.
The need for Indianisation:
One of the biggest dilemmas the railways is facing in the purchase of these rakes pertains to the speed of operations. What is the point of buying a 200kmph rake when the track isn;t good enough for anything over 150kmph at best? As reported by DNA in its November 9 edition, the railway ministry has formed a three-member committee to study the modalities of buying rakes from Spanish train manufacturer Talgo. The three members of the committee would be Additional Members of the Civil, Mechanical and Budget stream of the Railway Board. Officials DNA spoke to maintained that the train which was tested was not conducive for running on Indian Railways under current conditions as the rake was slimmer and lower than what is ideal for platforms in India. "The width of long-distance trains in India are 3250mm and suburban trains running in Mumbai have a width of 3660mm," said one official.
High speed trains, low speed tracks:
It is a question that railway officials are asking for the Talgo as well as the Rs 5000 crore plan to purchase high-speed trainsets to replace Rajdhanis and Shatabdis. As reported by DNA in its November 11 edition, the railway board is divided on the purchase of trainsets over speed.While a section of officials believe that buying expensive 200kmph trainsets now and running them at lower speeds till our tracks are upgraded to 200kmph would be a financial folly. These officials believe that by the time the tracks are upgraded- which might take anything between five to eight years- it would be possible to get better tachnology trainsets at the same cost or lesser. The railway ministry had earmarked Rs 2952 crores for the current fiscal to buy 15 such trainsets.
"It applies for the Talgo as well. If you buy them now, they won't be able to run at their full potential at least till another 5-10 years," was the chorus from several officials. They said that this 'back to the drawing board' move for the trainsets was made after going through the trials of the Talgo.Despite having a top speed potential of 200kmph, the maximum speed the Talgo could achieve during the trials was 117.5 kmph when it made the trip between Delhi-Mumbai on September 11 in 11 hours and 48 minutes.
"This was because our tracks, many of then having a top capacity of 160kmph, cannot support trains beyond a certain speed due to curves, age and other geological problems. So unless tracks are not upgraded, buying expensive trainsets or even the Talgo of 200kmph might not be a good idea," said an official.
Changing gauge: Advantage or disadvantage?
One of the biggest advantages that the Talgo has over several of its bigger railway manufacturing competitors is a technology called the Automatic Variable Gauge System (AVGS). Tis system allows the Talgo to change gauge even in motion as it makes its way from tracks of a particular width to another. The alternative way is to use two different rakes and asking passengers to shift from one train to another, which in turn is a messy time-consuming affair. This is a huge advantage when the Talgo makes its way around Spain- which has 3 different gauges like India- or when it makes the cross-border routes like between Spain and the rest of Europe as well between the CIS countries and the rest of Europe.
However, as officials pointed out, this advantage is nullified. "Though we have three different gauges- broad, metre and narrow- none of these stations intersect. Moreover narrow and metre gauge routes are now confined to small stations in rural areas and none of them are on high-end routes that the Talgo will ultimately be used for," said the official.
The tilting advantage:
The construction of the Talgo is such that it allows the rake to tilt in such a way that it can make corners and curves on tracks at higher speed. While manufacturers like Alstom, Bombardier and Siemens also have these tilting mechanisms, officials said the Talgo mechanism is by far the better one. "However whether this tilting really plays a huge part in India will have to be seen as out track curves come with varying speed restrictions that have been place for years," said the official.
The Talgo RTI:
A Right to Information plea filed by DNA on the Talgo came up with these answers:
1) No Make in India as of now.
2) Cost of trials was footed by the railways
3) There was no agreement between railways and Talgo on testing the rake
4) There is assured purchase agreement between railways and Talgo.
Talgo wins in Spain:
On November 28, the Spanish Ministry of Development announced that Talgo had been selected for a 786 million euro contract to supply 15 high-speed trainsets to government operator RENFE and maintain them for 30 years. Talgo is expected to put the first of its Avril trainsets in service as part of this contract in 38 to 42 months. These trains have a top speed of 330 kmph and are to have 416 standard and 105 business class seats. The company claimed that it had spent 50 million euros to develop the Avril high-speed train concept.

  
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Dec 20 2016 (16:50)
For Better Managed Indian Railways~   1933 blog posts
Re# 2097505-1            Tags   Past Edits
IR needs Tan-a-tan Tracks (stronger) and not Talgo Trains.
Talgo trains are welcome after the tracks are upgraded to operate the Talgo (or other SHS trains) at 160-200kmph.
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