Indian railways, represented by a group of 20 engineers and officers, recently visited Norway to get training in Norwegian Tunneling Technology.
Indian Railways is planning to expand its railway lines with 500 km each year over the next five years. Many of the new lines are in hilly and mountainous regions. An estimated 100 km of tunnels will be built each year. Being a very hilly country Norway has much experience in building railways on mountains and through mountains, and has developed advanced technologies to deal with these challenges.
The Indian experts visited the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute to learn about the model for tunneling used in Norway. The Norwegian Method of Tunneling (NMT) is considered cost effective, efficient and faster in construction in comparison to other methods. That made learning from Norway a natural choice for the Indian Railways.
Norway, which is about 1/8th of the size of India, has constructed over 5000 kms of tunnels in the country for various projects including roads, railways and hydropower projects. In the 1990s, Norway was constructing about 100 kms of tunnels per year, the same as India is planning to do in the coming years.
A proposal for collaboration between the Indian Railways and the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute is on the table. The Indian Government plans to spend USD 500 billion on railways for the next ten years, making a further partnership between Indian and Norwegian experts a distinct possibility.