INDIAN Railways (IR) has begun the process of selecting a foreign technology partner to assist with the production of a tilting version of the domestically-produced Vande Bharat main line EMU.

In her budget speech for 2022-23, India’s Finance Minister, Ms Nirmala Sitharaman, announced that 400 Vande Bharat EMUs would be built by 2025 by private-sector train manufacturers, referred to by IR as technology partners.

According to an IR official, “100 of these trainsets will have tilting technology.” Sitharaman is likely to make a formal announcement on the technology when she delivers her budget speech for the next financial year in January.

IR's interest in tilting trains stems from the fact that upgrading its mixed-traffic routes, used by both passenger and freight services, to enable faster speeds through curves for passenger trains would be complex and expensive.

In 2016 Talgo of Spain successfully conducted trials of rolling stock equipped with passive tilt on the Delhi - Mumbai route and two other corridors.

A year later the Indian and Swiss governments signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on technical cooperation in the rail sector including a proposal to jointly manufacture tilting trains.

Neither of these initiatives led to any further development of tilt technology in India, however.

With either passive tilt based on Talgo’s system of independent stub axles or the active systems deployed in Italy, Sweden, Britain, Japan and elsewhere, tilting trains are able to negotiate curves at higher speeds without the need for the large curve radii of high-speed lines.

“Average speeds of Indian trains can substantially improve through introduction of tilting trains, as such trains are capable of maintaining a consistent speed on the existing rail network without the need to undertake curve realignment work,” says Mr Subrata Nath, director for Asia Pacific at Talgo.