The Union Cabinet has approved the Indian Railway Ministry’s proposal to increase the maximum speed of trains on the busy New Delhi-Mumbai and New Delhi-Howrah routes to 160kmph from the current 130kmph in order to reduce travel time by at least three and half hours and five hours respectively, according to a government statement.

The decision was taken in the Cabinet meeting held on Monday, but were made public on Wednesday. It was during this Cabinet meeting that the decisions on Kashmir were discussed with Union ministers.

An analysis by the Indian Railways showed that only 0.3% of the over 60,000-km railway network is fit to handle trains running at 160kmph while 5% of it can handle the maximum speed of 130kmph.

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“The government has given its approval for increasing the speed of the Delhi-Mumbai route (including Kanpur-Lucknow) to 160 Kmph at a total cost of Rs 6,806 crore by 2022-23. This will ensure improved speed, service, safety and create capacity,” read the government statement. 

The estimated cost to upgrade the speed on the Delhi-Howrah route will be Rs 6,684 crore and the work will be completed by 2022-23, according to the official statement.

The ministry is also working to increase train speeds in all the routes of Golden Quadrilateral and Diagonals — Delhi-Mumbai, Delhi-Howrah, Howrah-Chennai, Chennai-Mumbai, Delhi-Chennai and Howrah-Mumbai.

The government has also approved the ministry’s plan to construct a new line between Vaibhavwadi-Kolhapur (now Shri Chhatrapati Shahumaharaj Terminus) (108 km) with an estimated cost of Rs. 3,439 crore.