Indian Railways exploring ‘at-grade’ construction options for semi-high-speed trains to avoid high cost

Vande Bharat Express
Vande Bharat Express

Indian Railways has hired a consultant to examine the feasibility of running trains at a maximum speed of 200 kmph on the ground rather than on an elevated structure, which would be a low-cost alternative for a semi-high-speed track.

Aside from recommending low-cost semi-high-speed railway technology suitable for Indian conditions, the consultant will also look into the possibility of using Vande Bharat trainsets and the TCAS (train collision avoidance system) on the broad-gauge network, which is expected to give the Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative a big boost.

Viaducts are currently being built for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed line, and the Delhi-Meerut RRTS and Metro service is available on either an elevated or underground construction. While constructing a kilometre of elevated structure costs around Rs 300 crore, at-grade construction for high-speed or semi-high-speed trains costs only Rs 30 crore.

Semi-high speed trains travel on standard gauges worldwide, just like RRTS and Airport Metro. In addition, the consultant will look into the possibility of running semi-high-speed trains on broad gauge rails. The national transporter would benefit from using the BG line because the whole Indian Rail network is on broad gauge (BG).

For Indian Railways, the BG network, indigenously developed TCAS, and Vande Bharat trainsets are the best solutions. However, it would save much money if semi-high-speed trains could run on the ground instead of elevated structures. A senior Railway Ministry official explained that the goal is to put up an at-grade level and avoid elevated structures/viaducts to save money.

The consultant has been tasked with examining several technical solutions and recommending to Indian Railways the best-optimized semi-high-speed technology for running trains at a maximum speed of 200 kmph on wide-gauge routes.

The consultant would also connect with road networks such as the National Highway, state highways, and existing rail tracks for the planned semi-high-speed corridors. According to the authority, aligning with rail or road networks will alleviate land acquisition and forest clearance issues for the trains. There are roughly eight potential semi-high-speed train lines that would connect all of the country’s major cities.


  1. It’s wrong to say that semi high speed trains use standard gauge worldwide – standard gauge is only used in countries where standard gauge is the norm, and not in countries like Japan, Spain or Russia.

    High speed rail is more likely to be in standard gauge, but there are already a handful of broad gauge high speed railways being built in Central Asia and Spain.


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