Goods trains on the dedicated freight corridor are running at speeds faster than Rajdhani trains, with one clocking a record 99.38 kmph on Saturday, officials said.
On Saturday, three trains ran at an average speed of more than 99 kmph, the fastest being on the 331-km New Khurja-New Bhaupur section of the Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor (EDFC), which was opened for operations by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 29, 2020.
"The highest average speed achieved was 99.38 kmph. Till date, 137 trains have attained an average speed of more than 90 kmph on this section," an official said.
The other section, the 306 km between Rewari and Madar on the Western Dedicated Freight Corridor (WDFC), was opened on January 7.
Till date in these sections, a total of 4,000 trains have been run with more than 3,000 trains being run on the EDFC.
"Some of the trains in the section are achieving a speed of 90 kmph routinely. Today three trains crossed the 99 kmph milestone while one achieved the speed of 99.38 kmph in EDFC. In WDFC the average is 89.50 kmph. These speeds are comparable to any of the fastest mail express trains," the official said.
In fact, of the 3,077 trains that ran on EDFC, the maximum speed so far was 97.85 kmph before the milestone was reached on Saturday. On WDFC, the maximum speed of the 837 trains was 89.50 kmph.
This speed is faster than the Rajdhani trains which run at an average speed of around 80 kmph on the rail network.
On Saturday, an empty train on its way to load coal clocked 99.38 kmph, completing its journey of over 300 km in three hours and twenty minutes.
Officials said that the high speeds being maintained on the DFCs are primarily due to the lack of restrictions on the dedicated corridors which are prevalent on the network of Indian Railways which is so congested that with time loss of up to 10 minutes per 100 km.
Another aspect is that the curves are not more than 2.5 degree which helps in achieving the speed of 100 kmph.
However, over the last year, mainly due to the restrictions on passenger traffic because of the coronavirus pandemic, freight trains on the rail network too have gained momentum with around a 60 per cent jump in average speeds, but nowhere near the pace achieved on the DFCs.
During normal times, goods trains on the rail network run at an average speed of 24 kmph, but during the lockdown last year, some zones managed to double their speeds. Over the last 18 months around six zonal railways have registered average speed of freight trains even above 50 km per hour.
However, it is to be seen if these speeds are maintained when restrictions are removed on passenger services.
The freight train on Saturday which achieved the highest speed completed its 351 km journey in three hours and twenty minutes.
"Improvement in freight speed leads to cost saving for all stake holders," an official said.
A total of approximately 2,800 route km of the whole WDFC and EDFC (excluding the Sonnagar-Dankuni PPP section) will be commissioned by June 2022.
The Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India (DFCCIL), in the first phase of the DFC project, is constructing the 1,504 route km of the WDFC and 1,856 route km of the Eastern DFC.
The Eastern DFC will start from Sahnewal and before terminating at Dankuni, West Bengal, it will pass through the states of Haryana, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand. On the other hand, the Western DFC connecting Dadri in Uttar Pradesh to JNPT in Mumbai will pass through the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Haryana.