The capacity problem for freight trains might finally have an answer. During a cabinet meeting earlier this week, the government approved the Railways’ proposal to increase the train speed on Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Howrah routes to 160kmph. This could result in doubling the speed of average freight traffic.

The two routes together account for 20% of freight traffic and 29% of passenger traffic. On the passenger side, the increased speed will reduce travel time by 3.5 hours ensuring a 60% increase in the average speed of passenger trains.

Railways transport about 3.35 million tonnes of freight daily. As passenger and freight trains run at vastly different speeds, freight trains are stopped for allowing faster passenger trains to pass. While a freight train waits for passenger trains to pass, the track remains unutilised, leading to wastage of capacity. According to a government statement, this increased speed on these routes will ensure improved service, safety and will create capacity.

As a part of the Ministry’s 100-day agenda, the Delhi-Mumbai project will cost INR 6,806 crore while the Delhi-Howrah project will cost INR 6,685 crores. The project is set to be completed by 2022-23. Apart from this, the ministry also plans on constructing a new line between Vaibhavwadi and Kolhapur (now Shri Chhatrapati Shahumaharaj Terminus) with an estimated cost of INR 3,439 crore. The project will be executed by Construction Organization of Central Railway and is expected to be completed by 2023-24.