Thursday, August 26, 2010

Some Info on High Speed trains

Japan introduced the world's first high-speed rail line, between Tokyo and Osaka for the 1964 Olympics. Bullet Trains, known as Shinkansen in Japanese, now travel at speeds up to 185 miles per hour over some 1,500 miles of rail lines across Japan.

In Europe, Italy linked Rome and Florence in 1978 with a high speed line; today high speed trains connect Spain, Germany, Belgium, Britain and France at speeds up to 150 miles per hour or more. France's TGV from Paris to Avignon runs at 158 miles per hour. China's high speed Trains run at 217 miles per hour along a new, 75-mile route between Beijing and Tianjin unveiled for the 2008 Olympics, and maglev trains blast by at 268 mph between Shanghai city and Shanghai airport. US trains on the contrary barely register 90 miles per hour. Amtrak's Acela train between Washington, D.C. and Boston briefly hits 150 miles per hour in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, but averages only about 85 mph over the full route due to limitations of the tracks and overhead electric lines.

European and Asian nations, compared to US have actively vouched for high-speed rail as higher gas prices and denser populations make rail travel generally more attractive. However, the cost of constructing high speed networks is pretty high-recent rail construction in Spain averaged some $22 million per mile (Rs 65 Crores per kilometer). Many high-speed train initiatives have therefore been derailed due to their skyhigh cost.

( A Chinese High speed train passing through the countryside)

Austin Ramzy in the Aug 16 issue of TIME writes:

In 1981 China had 54,000 km of track; by the end of 2010 it will have nearly doubled that to 100,000 km. More importantly, China has gone from having one of the world's largest rail networks to also having one of the best. It covers some of the world's most difficult terrain — like the Tibetan Plateau, where workers laid track over a 5,000-m pass and 550 km of permafrost to link the Tibetan capital of Lhasa with the rest of China. The system has also seen a steady increase in average speed, from 48 km/h in 1993 to 70 km/h in 2007. On some routes, averages are phenomenal. The journey from the city of Wuhan in central China to Guangzhou in the south is now covered at 313 km/h. It's the fastest average speed in the world for a passenger train and cuts the trip time from 10 and a half hours to three hours.

Chinese authorities aren't satisfied, however. Spending on railroad construction increased 80% over 2008 totals to reach $88 billion in 2009. It will climb to $120 billion this year and exceed $700 billion over the next decade. The most ambitious focus of that investment is the expansion of China's high-speed passenger rail. Right now, China is the world's leader with 6,552 km of high-speed tracks (defined as those that can carry trains at speeds over 200 km/h). It plans to double that distance in two years.

But critics worry that with more than half of China's population still rural, spending billions on fancy rail projects is excessive — particularly as it comes a mere decade after the country embarked on building an equally impressive highway system.

Although construction costs are cheap in China, high-speed railways are also much more expensive to build and maintain than standard railroads. Fast-train networks have traditionally been built in smaller, developed nations like Japan, because they are best suited to travel between highly populated, closely located cities — not in a place like China, where large cities are spread out. What's more, many Chinese are perfectly willing to take slower, cheaper trains.

( A High Speed Train station's passenger waiting area in China)

(A Chinese High Speed Train)

Sunday, July 04, 2010

China Rail on a Long Roll

I recently read a nice article in Business Standard by Raghu Dayal about how India can draw some lessons from the high level of progress achieved by China's Rail system. Some of the statistics presented in the article are:

In 1990-91: India had 62367 route Kms of lines against 57889 for China. By 2007-2008 India managed to increase the figure to 63273 Route Kms while China grew to 77966 route Kms overtaking India.India doubled its electrified route Kms from 1990 to 2008 while China quadrapuled it in the same time frame. But Chinese Railways trailed Indian Railways technologically until the 1980s

China today is the World's second largest freight railway system and the largest passenger system. China has the highest traffic density measured in passenger-km and ton-km per km of line which is 10.5 times the world average.

China relied on high techology and a judicious mix of passenger routes running at 200 Kmph and freight routes running at 120 Kmph to overtake India. The lines/trains with the 80-100 Kmph limits have been upgraded to 160-200 kmph on popular corridors. In 2008, the 300 kmph EMU was inaugurated. China Rail is currently constructing 350 kmph high speed passenger dedicated lines(PDLs) whihc is estimated to crisscross 16000 route kms by 2020.

for the complete article see:

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ninja Turtles of the east coast

The Olive Ridley sea Turtles are an endangered breed of Marine turtles. Marine turtles unlike terrestrial ones can't cocoon themselves in their shells while sensing danger. They have to face the harsh realities of the deep seas and often end up becoming food for the bigger sea creatures in the marine food chain. One baby turtle in every 1000 that hatch survives into adulthood and may end up in the same rookery where she was born to lay her eggs.

Worldwide nesting sites of Olive Ridleys

Olive Ridley Sea Turtle

Green Sea Turtle

Hawksbill Turtle
Every year my family and I have visited the mass nesting (Arribada in Spanish) site of Rushikulya, not very far from our home. Its a sight to savor, to see lakhs of Olive Ridleys emerge from the Bay of Bengal to build (dig) their nests and lay their 100+ eggs per mother per nest, cover them up with their powerful flippers and depart to the sea, never to see their offsprings again. [what a relationship!!! my mom would go insane if I'm out of her sight for a day :( lolz ]

The story of their lives starts here:

Mating Olive Ridleys
The males never come to the beach and stay in water. After a few weeks of mating, the females come to "safe-deposit" their eggs. The Turtles are indeed intelligent creatures. The mothers will be waiting for the right winds and will only then come to the beach to lay their eggs. They know that if there are no winds the trail left by their flippers would not be levelled and the flipper-prints will invite a host of predators like dogs and jackals to prey on the eggs.

Olive Ridleys emerging from the Bay of Bengal to Rushikulya

Thats me and my friend.

After making the nest

Laying the eggs

Covering the nest with sand

Mass Nesting (Arribada)

After nesting, the eggs incubate in the warm sand for around 50 days before the hatchlings start to emerge- force themselves out of each nest by the hundreds. The beach looks like an intricately woven carpet of fast moving- large sized beetles (baby turtles) :)

Hatchlings come out of their nests and move towards the sea.
Many a time, the babies get attracted to light and plantation and head in the wrong direction and hence have to be redirected to the sea by volunteers and conservationists i.e. Humans- Poor Turtles where would they have gone had we not intervened :) lolz)

Local village kids helping in the "rescue and relief" operation :)

Many Turtles get entangled in fishing nets and die a gory death. Marine turtles unlike fish don't have gills and have to comeout to the surface to breathe. Unfortunately fishing trawalers aren't equipped with turtle excluder devices (TED) from which they can escape but fish cant. :( Though govt had made it mandatory to use TEDs they are not implemented in this area.

Turtle Excluder Device

Poor fella got entangled in the locally made fishing net.

The major threat they face at Rushikulya is the the receding beach. The sea is gobbling up the land and their nesting habitat [Beach erosion]. It is believed that climate change has been the prime cause in sea level rise. A perpetual cynic like Greenpeace believes that numerous port constructions along the 480 km Orissa coastline would completely devastate their habitat. And they try to prove what they believe. Personally I feel they'll continue to nest and wont be bothered by the ports a few 10s of Kms away. Rookeries coexist peacefully alongside ports in USA, Carribean and Brazil.

There is progressive erosion of Orissa's..errrr Odisha's beaches

An uphill task for securing her bloodline...thanks to the erosion caused by climate change.

Mangrove afforestation helps prevent erosion of the beach. Students have got involved.
There are predators and scavengers out there. Life is too uncertain for them :( and so also for us.

Very Unfortunate........Rest in Peace. Amen!!!

Turtles that die in the sea get washed off to the shore and "every dog has his day"
Sometimes the sea is the biggest predator of the nests. A high tide can wash away millions of eggs.
The Rushikulya Sea turtle protection Committee takes active role in creating awareness among villagers and students about the endangered species. The volunteers also act as guides to visiting tourists. They have named their endeavor "Operation Kacchapa".

Interpretation Centre at Rushikulya(Puranabandha) run by the RSTPC helps create awareness.

Workshops are conducted in schools and during the Gopalpur Beach festival.

School Children have their own means to spread awareness.

RSTPC's Billboards in the Villages

How to go there:The Rushikulya Rookery is situated near Ganjam town in southern Orissa.Spread over 5 kms,the nesting site is east of National Highway 5 ,running between Kolkata and Chennai.You can hire auto rickshaws from the railway station or bus stop at Ganjam and go through tiny villages of Purunabandha,Palibandha or Gokhurkuda to reach the sandy rookery

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Retrofitted Emergency exits on Indian Railways

Photos of Retrofitted Emergency exits on Indian Railways

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Side middle berths on Indian Railways are such a torture

Mr. Laloo Yadav in his effort to reduce commuter railway fares introduced side middle berths in tier sleeper and 3 tier AC coaches on many trains. This is just too much to bear. As it is trains are so crowded and to add to the trouble you got to share your seat with an extra person. To install a side middle berth, the upper berth has been raised higher up... so there is no head room on the side upper berth...its too claustrophobic :(

Well, considering the fact that Indian Railways fares are among the cheapest in the world, you get what you pay for...but Laloo ji, please undo these side middle berth business on trains...give us some breathing space.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Train Train don't go away, Train Train come again every day, little me wants to play:)


Pictures of Shinkansen(Bullet Train) from Japan (2007 September visit)

Pictures of Eurostar (This high speed train (300 Kmph) connects London and Paris through the English Channel) --Jun 2008:

German high speed ICE rail:


Cologne, Germany(Local/Suburban Trains):

Trains in Switzerland:

Die Zentralbahn:

Cog Wheel Train:(The cog wheel rail is useful for the trains in hilly terrain)

Other Japanese Trains:
(I remembered George Orwell: All trains are equal but some are more equal than the these :-)
Hankyu Line (Private Railway) in Osaka

Paris Metro:
Vivalto -Trenitalia (Rome, Italy)