Indian railways seem to have amazing new plans and ideas for the rails to run on the Bilaspur-Manali-Leh line along the India-China border, which is going to be the world’s highest rail track. As the train passing through this line will be running on the highest air level, it is a must for the railways to design coaches capable of handling air pressure in order to ensure that passengers do not have breathing difficulties on board.
As an aircraft also flies at the highest altitude and the flight passengers are kept free from the air pressure with the use of particular air pressure systems in the aircraft cabins, a similar technology is considered to be adopted for these particular rail coaches. The cabins of many aircraft are adjusted to near sea-level pressure for making breathing almost the same as at sea level for the aircraft despite flying at a very high altitude.
Chief Engineer (Construction), Northern Railway, D.R. Gupta says, “Special pressurised rolling stock to deal with lack of oxygen will have to be used in these trains as passengers might feel uneasy because of the high altitude. These will be like the pressurised cabins used by aircraft to maintain the oxygen levels inside.”
The railway line, situated at a height of 5,360 metres above the sea level is a 465-km like which is to be built at a cost of Rs 83,360 crore. NBotably this will be the first ever railway line in India to have the first pressurised coaches. Such pressurized coaches are currently used only in the Quinghay-Tibet Railway Line in China.
The coaches used in China are manufactured by Canada’s Bombardier Inc. This same manufacturer also makes small planes which are particularly designed to carry passengers in an oxygen-deficient atmosphere.
Explaining the technical features of the Tibet train, Gupta says that there are two kinds of systems which are used to maintain oxygen levels. One system is to use the main controls which maintain standard oxygen levels and gets switched on at high altitude areas. Another system is through oxygen ports which are equipped for each passenger and can be used when the passengers feel that lack of oxygen.
However, whether such coaches could be manufactured or not or would have to be procured from outside that is not yet cleared by the Chief Engineer.
The train, once complete and runs on the track, will be connecting important locations between Bilaspur and Leh like Sundernagar, Mandi, Manali, Keylong, Koksar Darcha, Upshi and Karu, along with other important towns of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir en route.