February 9, 2018 at 9:25 am

Modernization of the Indian Railways

Steam and coal engines have been an integral part of the Indian railways since it was established in the 1800s. With the advent of the electrical age since the turn of the 20th century, India has been in a major rewiring and electrification process. The railway network, however, is vast and has nearly 90 thousand kilometres of tracks. An organization was needed to oversee the conversion.

Established in 1961, the CORE or Central Organization for Railway Electrification has electrified almost a third of the tracks that currently run through India. It is headquartered in Allahabad and operates in many cities in India and is also assisted by many other branches of the Indian Railways. The history of electrification began in 1961, and here, is some information and a closer look at the electrification of the Indian Railways:

  • 1500V DC: These battery-powered electric lines were first introduced way back in 1925 between the Bombay Victoria Terminus and Kurla on the erstwhile British railroad lines. The steep grades on the Western Ghats led to the introduction of the electric lines. These were the last DC electric lines to be functioning in India and had been upgraded to 25kV lines in 2016.
  • 3000V DC: The first 3000V DC lines were introduced in the Howrah-Burdwan region in 1958 by the Eastern Railways, later the first multiple unit trains began to run on the same line in 1957. These railroads were then upgraded to 25kV in 1968.

  • 25kV AC: The 25kV system is economically efficient compared to the 1500V or the 3000V lines and was first used by the SNCF (French railways). Indian railways later decided to adopt it as a standard in 1957 along with some help and consultation from the SNCF (French railways). The first section of rail lines to use the 25 kV was the Raj Kharswan- Dongoaposi in the southern railways, and the first multiple unit systems to use it was the Howrah and Kolkata suburban region.

All the rail lines in have been converted from DC to AC, and the last conversions took place in 2016 by the Central Railways. Before CORE was founded, most of the regional railway systemswere in charge of electrifying their lines. This was when the Northern, Central and Southern Railways came together to establish CORE with headquarters in Allahabad. A general manager of the CORE was appointed in 1987 to head the organization.

The process, however, has been slow and steady. The CORE has faced a lot of obstacles over the years. Some of these issues are deploying new lines in rural areas, finding power stations in remote regions, establishing lines in areas with high gradient and so on. As of 2016, nearly 30000 kilometres of rail tracks have been electrified, and major routes like Delhi- Mumbai, Delhi- Chennai, Mumbai- Howrah, Howrah-Chennai, and Delhi-Kolkata are fully electrified. The advancement of electrification has spurred growth in other parts of the railway system such as rolling stock, equipment, signalling, SCADA, etc.

 For more train details and information on the Indian Railways, one can refer to a multitude of travel booking websites and other informative online sites.

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