India to soon get hi-tech tilting trains
India has signed an MoU with Switzerland for hi-tech tilting trains- trains that will tilt while crossing a bend, just like motorbikes do on winding roads. Such trains are currently used in 11 countries: China, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovenia, Switzerland and UK. The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology will also help establish an institute of tunnel technology in Goa.
The countries that led the tilting train experiment
Countries around the world have had their own experiments with the tilting train mechanism. As early as the 1940s, the Pendulum Car, an experimental tilting coach, was developed in the US. In the 70s, the lightweight Talgo train was developed in Spain which used a passive tilt. With the Advanced Passenger Train, Britain pioneered the tilting technology in service; however, it was eventually abandoned.
How do these trains work?
When normal trains cross bends at usual speeds, it often leads to passengers and things being pushed to one side. "While it makes seated passengers feel squashed by the armrest, standing passengers tend to lose their balance," said an official. But the tilting train mechanism counters this: while taking a curve to the left, it will tilt to the left, and vice versa.
Not India's first experiment with tilting trains
Last year, the Talgo trains were tested between Bengaluru and Mysuru. "This technology will be cheaper as it can run on existing tracks. Since there are a lot of curves on the Bengaluru-Mysuru line, it will be better," former railway minister Suresh Prabhu had said.