New Delhi: Train travel between Delhi and Chandigarh may come down to less than two hours with France coming on board for 200-km per hour rail project.

This 266-km stretch is covered in three hours and 25 minutes at present by Shatabdi Express, the fastest train on this route with an average speed of 79.8 km per hour.

The Railways is looking to reduce the travel time to less than two hours, if the proposed upgradation project goes on track to run trains at a speed of 200 kilometres per hour. This takes into account the stoppages and other factors such as time lapse in attaining the maximum speed.

A pact was signed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s France visit for cooperation between Indian Railways and French Railways for this semi-high speed rail project.

Under this, French National Railways has agreed to co-finance an execution study for “a semi-high speed project on upgradation of the Delhi-Chandigarh line to 200 kmph”.

The study by the French National Railways will be the first step towards execution of the semi-high speed train project on the Delhi-Chandigarh route, said a senior Railway Ministry official, who is involved with this project.

He said French National Railways is known for advanced signalling systems and it can play a key role in this project.

The study will be followed by upgrading the signalling system, strengthening of the tracks and track-fencing in certain areas to enable operation of semi-high speed trains.

Railways has decided to introduce semi-high speed trains on eight more routes including Delhi-Agra, Delhi-Kanpur, Chennai-Hyderabad, Nagpur-Secunderabad and Mumbai-Goa.

The ministry official said that Railways is looking to reduce the travel time between major cities by running semi-high speed trains at a speed of 160-200 km per hour.

Trial runs are being carried out on Delhi-Agra route to run trains at a speed of 160 km per hour.

Incidentally, French consultancy Systra is involved in the pre-feasibility study of a proposed bullet train on the 450-km-long Delhi-Chandigarh-Amritsar corridor project.

Semi-high speed trains can run at up to 200 km per hour, while faster ones come in the category of high-speed or bullet trains. Railways is planning a ‘Diamond Quadrilateral’ to connect top four cities with a high-speed train network.

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