Most continents, Africa included, should be “adequately serviced” by rail systems operating at speeds of between 150 km/h to 250 km/h, says Louis Berger Group rail programmes technical VP Vinay Mudholkar.
Mudholkar is also a former Amtrak director and All Aboard Florida senior VP.
Speaking at Africa Rail, held in Johannesburg, on Wednesday, Mudholkar said he regarded this band of speed as “the sweet spot”, generating a good rate of return. Systems that operate at these speeds can also be built, operated and maintained efficiently.
“Every nation is constrained for resources, even in the US now.”
Mudholkar added that he also believed that rail corridors should be shared between passengers and freight, as this generated sufficient revenue.
He proposed a system of six E’s for the design, planning and delivery of any rail system.
The system must firstly be economical to build, operate and maintain, as it must not place an unnecessary burden on the tax payer. Rail systems must also deliver improvement to the environment, and be expeditious in its delivery.
If people do not see delivery on a railway project in three to five years, they will lose faith in the project, noted Mudholkar.
Another E is to ensure that the rail system’s energy consumption is sustainable, and that it is able to handle any emergency.
The safety of the passenger and goods should be paramount, said Mudholkar.
The last E is to ensure that the construction of a rail system educates the local workforce, with transfer of technology to local employees and businesses.
Mudholkar also noted that he believed that rail systems should eliminate all grade crossings, as this holds the “most danger” to rail operations globally.