This month, RAPIDX, India’s first regional train service, is expected to begin operations on a 17-kilometre priority section linking Shahibabad and Duhai Depot. Sahibabad, Ghaziabad, Guldhar, Duhai, and the Duhai Depot are the five stations along the route. The stretch is part of the Delhi-Meerut Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS) Project. Trains on the RRTS corridor have been designed to reach a top speed of 180 kmph. Along with the priority stretch, a 42-kilometre viaduct between Sahibabad and Meerut South Station has also been developed.
Following the priority segment, a 25-kilometre-long section encompassing Muradnagar, Modi Nagar South, Modi Nagar North, and Meerut South will be commissioned. The Delhi-Meerut Regional Rapid Transit System, development and construction works commenced in June 2019. The National Capital Region Transport Corporation (NCRTC), which is building the RRTS corridor, hopes to open the entire 82-kilometer-long Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut length to the public by 2025, along with Metro services in Meerut.
The trains are called RAPIDX because the acronym is easy to read and speak in a number of languages. The X in the name implies future-generation technology and the new-age mobility solution, in addition to speed and progress. It is also associated with youth, optimism, vigour and energy. The NCRTC, a joint venture operation of the Centre and the state governments of Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh, is developing the semi-high speed regional rail service across the National Capital Region (NCR).
The Making and the Features
The RapidX trainset is an Electric multiple unit (EMU) train designed specifically for the country’s RapidX (regional rapid transit) services. The train had been designed in Hyderabad, Telangana, by the French rolling stock company Alstom, and manufactured at Savli, Gujarat. The train has an aerodynamic design that decreases drag when it travels and advances at the top operational speed of 160 km/h. Though, the design speed of the RapidX is 180 Km/Hr.
Different From Metro & Conventional Railway
RRTS differs from metro in the sense that it caters to passengers who want to travel a longer distance with fewer stops and at a faster speed. RRTS differs from the conventional railway in a fact that it shall enable dependable, frequent, point-to-point regional transport at high speeds over a designated path. RRTS is a new, dedicated, high-speed, high-capacity, comfortable commuter service that connects regional nodes in the National Capital Region.
India’s Pride: The Make in India Initiative
Under the Chairmanship of the Secretary Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD), the Planning Commission established a Task Force in 2005 to build a multi-modal transit system for the Delhi National Capital Region (NCR). This was included in the NCR 2032 Integrated Transport Plan, with a focus on Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS) connections between regional hubs. The Task Force identified eight corridors and prioritised three corridors for implementation: Delhi-Meerut, Delhi-Panipat, and Delhi-Alwar. The National Capital Region Planning Board (NCRPB) appointed M/s. Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System for Delhi-Meerut and Delhi-Panipat, and M/s. Urban Mass Transit Company Limited for Delhi-Alwar, to conduct feasibility studies and prepare the Detailed Project Report in March 2010.
There was a need for a new semi-high-speed trainset envisaged, specifically designed for semi-high-speed regional rail travel when the RapidX service was conceived. The train sets were intended to be locally produced in compliance with the Make in India programme after the NCRTC opened tenders for the same in 2019. In early 2020, the NCRTC finalised the procurement of train sets, which were to be produced in Savli by Bombardier Transportation. In accordance with the Make in India policy, the tender was finalised and settled with the condition of trains to have fifty percent of local components as opposed to the original requirement of 75 percent. The train’s design was revealed to the public later in the year. The train’s stainless-steel body has been designed and engineered to reach a top speed of 180 km/h.
- The train is built with a stainless-steel body and an aerodynamic nose cone to lessen air drag resistance when operating at high speeds. Because of its stainless-steel body, the train is fairly restricted and lower in weight.
- Each car features six doors, three on each side, for simpler entry and egress, with the exception of the Business class, which has four doors, two on each side. Each vehicle features tempered safety glass windows that are double-glazed.
- The train includes 2×2 seating with plenty of leg room for passengers. For peak hours, the aisles are equipped with grab grips and poles to accommodate standing passengers. It has an overhead luggage rack as it has been designed and developed for regional rail travel and service.
- The train has onboard Wi-Fi, a public announcement and display system, an information and entertainment display, a dynamic route map display and an emergency communication facility and service.
- The train sets have ambient lighting and temperature control systems to ensure efficient energy consumption. The train also has a designated wheelchair space.
- In terms of safety, the train has a fire & smoke detector, CCTV, a fire extinguisher, and a door status indicator, as well as an innovative Train Control Monitoring System technology with predictive and condition-based monitoring capabilities.
- For the first time in the country, a railway system shall be opened for high-speed operation along its whole length. Along with the priority stretch, a forty-two-kilometre viaduct between Sahibabad and Meerut South Station has been constructed. Trains on the corridor are expected to travel at a maximum speed of 160 kmph.
- Following the priority segment, a 25-kilometer-long section consisting of four stations-Muradnagar, Modi Nagar South, Modi Nagar North, and Meerut South-will be commissioned. Construction on the RRTS began in June 2019, with the entire length of 82.15 km corridor, as well as Metro services in Meerut, set to open in June 2025.
- The necessary finance for the construction of this corridor, estimated at Rs. 30,274 crores, is being provided by multilateral help. The RRTS alias RAPIDX is co-financed by Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), New Development Bank (NDB), and Asian Development Bank (ADB).
- According to internal projections, the train will carry approximately 800,000 passengers every day. Despite this high traffic volume, passenger revenue is projected to remain restrained. To solve financial issues caused by regulated fares, the NCRTC is investigating advertising avenues to supplement fare income.
- Every RAPIDX train will include a separate women’s coach to ensure safe and comfortable regional travel for women. Moving from Delhi to Meerut, the women’s coach will be the second coach of the train set, just behind the premium coach. While travelling to Delhi from Meerut, it will be the train’s second-to-last coach, immediately before the premium coach. Diaper-changing facility has also been provided at every station.
- Proper signage at the platform level and on the train door openings is being provided to identify these coaches. This reserved coach can accommodate seventy-two passengers for seating.
- Operational: 0 Km
- Under Construction: 82.15 Km
- Approved: 209 Km
- Proposed: 700 Km (Approx)
- Design Speed: 180 Kmph
- Operational Speed: 160 Kmph
- Average Speed: 100 Kmph
- Track Gauge: Standard Gauge (1435mm)
- Rolling Stock: Aerodynamic (Stainless Steel/Aluminium Body)
- Signalling: European Train Control System (ETCS) Level 2 of ERTMS
- Traction: 1×25 KV AC Overhead Catenary (OHE)
- Seating Arrangement: Transverse
- Classes: Economy & Business (1 coach per train)
The RAPIDX, India’s first regional train service, will begin operations on the priority segment soon. Sahibabad, Ghaziabad, Guldhar, Duhai, and the Duhai Depot are the five stations along the route. Work on all these stations have almost been completed and are nearly ready for operations. This section is a part of the Delhi-Meerut Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS). In a recent development by NCRTC (National Capital Region Transport Corporation), it has been stated that safety approvals from the Commissioner for Metro Rail Safety (CMRS) have been received, and the project is expected to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the coming days.