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At 160 kmph, Train-2018 will begin its run from Chennai ICF

The railways has decided to go ahead with manufacturing on its own trainsets that can run at a maximum speed of 160 kmph, after its global bid in this regard failed to elicit positive response.

Aptly named 'Train-2018', the first trainset – a rake without a separate locomotive -- is expected to be ready by March next year and likely to be pressed into service in Delhi-Lucknow or Delhi-Chandigarh sector.

A trainset, much like a Delhi Metro rake, comprises many coaches that are individually powered by a propulsion system, eliminating the need for locomotive.

"Our aim is to reduce travel time between cities and to achieve that, we have launched Train-2018 project to manufacture two trainsets at the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) near Chennai on a pilot basis," a senior Railway Ministry official involved with the project said.

As per the Rs 200 crore project, two trainsets will be manufactured, in collaboration with foreign players on transfer of technology basis, for which the ICF has floated a fresh global tender.

Aiming to offer both comfort and pace to passengers, the project will roll out semi-high speed, 16-coach trainsets with quicker acceleration and world-class passenger amenities.

For a first in Indian Railways, these trainsets will have automatic plug type doors that will open and close at stations, wide windows for panoramic view, and ergonomically designed seating.

The railways had floated a global tender for procurement- cum-maintenance and manufacture of 15 trainsets with 315 coaches in June, 2015. Though five bidders had qualified for the initial round, they did not find the offer viable and asked for raising the tender size to 1,000 coaches.

Now, it has been decided to make it here to reduce the manufacturing and import cost, said the official. Equipped with bio-toilets, all coaches in the fully AC trainset will be inter-connected so that passengers can move from one coach to other with ease.

To make the travel more a joyful ride, all coaches of a trainset will be provided with onboard Wi-Fi, infotainment and GPS-based passenger information system (PIS) which will keep the passengers informed about the travel status. The train will have plush interiors and diffused LED lighting.

To reduce jerk and vibration, Train-2018 will be equipped with improved mechanical couplers and modern coaches with fully suspended traction motors, pneumatic secondary suspension and anti-roll bar.

HTT in talks with 5 states for high-speed travel network

US-based Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) is in talks with five Indian states to build a high-speed travel network and will also raise $100 million to invest in the country.

It is in talks with a corporate house for a local partnership and also an academic institution, its chairman Bibop Gresta has said.

"We have five offers on the table from five chief ministers. We spoke to them and the one that will give us the land we will go and build. We have local partners and we are now raising USD 100 million and bringing another investment from abroad," Gresta said.

The money will be raised exclusively for India play and from both international and domestic investors, he said.

Once the land and other permissions for the "fifth mode of transportation", which is based on a futuristic idea presented by entrepreneur Elon Musk in 2013, are in place, HTT can host a passenger in 36-38 months, he said. The idea entails putting goods and people in capsules which will travel in specially-made vacuum tunnels built above the ground.

Magnetic levitation and zero resistance will ensure the capsules travel at very high speeds of over 1,000 kmph. It has not yet been deployed anywhere yet. Asserting that HTT has been in touch with Indian officials for long and has also hosted Union Minister Nitin Gadkari at its US offices, Gresta expressed dismay for the "confusion" created by rival 'Hyperloop One'.

In its efforts to develop in the lucrative Indian market, the rival is reportedly hosting a seminar in the national capital next week.

"They (officials) are talking only with us, until now. Their (HO) company is doing an event on 27th. They are confusing a little bit. That confuses the brand Hyperloop. The funny thing is that they convinced the rail minister to go there," he said.

After presenting the idea, which entails passengers or goods being transported inside capsules put inside vacuum created in special tunnels above the ground at speeds of over 1,000 kmph, Musk asked the industry to work on it.
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