S K Sharma, Retired Addl General Manager, Southern Railway.
The bullet trains are generally classified as high speed trains having speed of 300 kmph (Kilometers per hour). These trains are currently running in many countries including China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and so on to connect major cities. The commercial speeds of the Bullet Trains are hovering between 300 – 430 kmph in a typical track vehicle interaction mode. The track gauge is generally standard gauge (1,435 mm) in Japan and European countries resulting in that most of the high speed technologies have been developed on standard gauge viz track, coaches, engines, signalling, telecommunications, and electrical systems.
At this high speed, the track vehicle interaction becomes highly sensitive to even minute obstructions like a small pebble or a small iron piece which may cause major catastrophe. In India, major obstructions on the track are quite common. Even under ordinary passenger trains, people place coins to convert it into 8 annas coins playfully. Or they simply put nails in track joints to see what happens. Not only village illiterate but also urban literate people find the track as most convenient place for morning chore where even politics is discussed in addition to relieving themselves. The crossing of track takes place not only on level crossings but also on plain track which leaves any high speed operation to a horrendous imagination in case of any catastrophe.