The Howrah-New Delhi Rajdhani, which started its maiden journey on March 1, 1969, currently takes 17.15 hours to travel the distance of 1525 kilometres.
The increase in the speed of the train will reduce the travel time to 14 hours and 35 minutes.
Indian Railways will reduce the travel time on the country’s first Rajdhani Express between Howrah (Kolkata) and New Delhi by increasing its speed to 160 kilometres per hour.
The Howrah-New Delhi Rajdhani, which started its maiden journey on March 1, 1969, now takes 17.15 hours to travel the distance of 1525 kilometres between the two terminal stations via Gaya in Bihar.
The increase in the speed of the train — a project undertaken under the Indian Railways’ ‘Mission Raftar’ (read ) — will reduce the travel time to 14 hours and 35 minutes.
The top speed of the train was to 130 kilometres per hour in November 2019 with the introduction of an additional locomotive at the rear of the train. That reduced the journey time between Howrah and New Delhi by about 90 minutes.
WAP7 locomotives were attached to both ends of the 22 coach LHB rake and ‘push-pull’ technique was deployed to increase the top speed of the train to 130 kilometres per hour. The two locomotives were hard-wired to function as one so that when brakes are applied or released together in unison, the time for deceleration and acceleration is reduced significantly. The two engines also provide more power to the train.
At present, the train leaves Howrah at 1650 hours (4.50 pm) and reaches New Delhi at 1005 hours (10.05 am). The train now travels at speeds between 85 and 130 kilometres an hour. Soon, the train will travel at speeds varying from 110 to 160 kilometres per hour.
Senior Eastern Railway (ER) officials told Swarajya that the railway headquarters has already sanctioned works to increase the speed of the train. Track improvement works, including erection of fences along the tracks in some sections, overhead equipment modification and automatic train protection measures, are in progress and are expected to be completed soon, said the ER officials.
The modifications of overhead equipment include the use of the latest technology that is deployed in China, Germany, France and South Africa.
On its maiden journey, the Howrah-New Delhi Rajdhani Express took 17 hours and 20 minutes to travel the 1450 kilometres between the two terminal stations. The top speed of the train was 120 kilometres per hour.
That train, pulled by a WDM-4 class locomotive, had nine coaches — one AC first class, five AC chair cars, one dining car and two generator cars. But with the passage of time, more and more coaches were introduced and the dining car as well as the chair cars were replaced by AC two and three tier coaches. That, and the introduction of more stoppages by successive railway ministers to cater to their states and constituencies, significantly reduced the speed of the train.
It was only after the National Democratic Alliance government returned to power in 2014 that work on improvement and upgradation of tracks, rolling stock and other equipment to increase the speed of trains was undertaken.