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Ring rail may come alive again.

WHILE Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the driver's seat on Saturday inside a Shinkansen bullet train in Japan, top railway officials back home are looking at him to pilot the revival of Delhi's ring rail network as a long- term measure to curb air pollution and unclog the city's roads.

A presentation on the ring railway will be given by the Delhi division of the railways during the Rail Vikas Shivir -- a brainstorming session with employees -- from November 18 to 20, with the tagline " Why settle for ordinary when excellence is achievable". At present, the 35- km ring rail network is used mostly for movement of goods trains and only 10 passenger trains operate throughout the day with daily ridership of nearly 4,000.

Railway officials say the service can be developed into a faster mode of transport than the Delhi Metro but the city's AAP government has developed cold feet over the project.

A joint committee of the Delhi government's transport department and the railways had found encroachment along railway tracks and stations the biggest hurdle in the revival of the network that connects the most prominent commercial and residential pockets in the city.

The ring railway's rebirth was one of the major announcements in railways minister Suresh Prabhu's budget this year. Even Delhi transport minister Gopal Rai Ring

had met Prabhu, seeking to establish a robust rail network for the city.

" Ring railway will significantly reduce vehicular pollution in Delhi besides decongesting city traffic. This will be brought to the notice of PM Modi during the session," a senior railway official said. Officials say passenger trains can be run at 110 km per hour within the city if the existing corridor is strengthened.

This would be approx 30 kmph faster than the Delhi Metro which reaches a top speed of 80 km per hour. The average distance between two Metro stations is 1.5 to 2 km, whereas the ring railway stations are about 3 to 5 km apart.

This, according to officials, would allow trains to attain higher speeds and hence can be used by passengers for long- distance travel within Delhi At present, the Railways runs 10 passenger trains on the ring rail that complete the whole trip in 90- 120 minutes. The existing corridor is primarily used to operate freight trains. However, the Railways plans to replace them with passenger trains.

For this purpose, the department is planning to lay new tracks on Delhi's periphery. Officials Only 10 passenger trains operate in the network

Officials said most of the goods trains running on the ring rail are not destined for Delhi and so they can be shifted out of the city.

Once the goods trains are removed, the Railways will be able to run passenger trains at the frequency of 10 to 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, Delhi division officials have also urged Indian Railway PSUs -- Indian Railway Station Development Corporation ( IRSDC) and Rail Land Development Authority ( RLDA) -- to examine the feasibility of the plan.

A consultant will be appointed to prepare a roadmap for revival of the ring railway. The consultant will explore monetisation of railway properties at commercial hubs such as Sarojini Nagar, Lajpat Nagar, INA and Dhaula Kuan.

It is noteworthy that the Railways cannot introduce a new passenger train on the ring rail network without further expansion.

The ring rail corridor is operating at 130 per cent saturation and to introduce a new passenger train, the Railways will have to withdraw a goods train that would put a burden of nearly 500 diesel- guzzling trucks on Delhi roads.

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Nov 13, 2016
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