Thursday, Oct 23, 2014

Delhi-Amritsar bullet train plan back on track

The 450-km stretch will be the second such project after the Mumbai-Ahmedabad stretch. The 450-km stretch will be the second such project after the Mumbai-Ahmedabad stretch.
Written by Avishek G Dastidar | New Delhi | Posted: February 3, 2014 1:22 am

As the Japan government funds the pre-feasibility study of the first-ever bullet train corridor between Ahmedabad and Mumbai, Railways has gone ahead and revived plans for a second one on the Delhi-Chandigarh-Amritsar stretch.

The newly created High Speed Rail Corporation has called for international bidders for carrying out the pre-feasibility study of the 450-km-stretch project, which is expected to bring Delhi closer to Amritsar by 90 minutes by trains running upwards of 350 kmph.

The pre-feasibility study gives the detailed idea about the cost and other detailed technical parameters to be achieved in the execution of the project.

This comes after Railway Board’s efforts to get this study done derailed a couple of years ago as they could not finalise the tender.

Internal estimates had valued the project at Rs 70,000-80,000 crore. In the meantime, the priorities of Railways had also changed with subsequent political dispensations placing the bullet-trains project in the backburner because a financing model could not be firmed up for the costly project.

The High Speed Rail Corporation, floated late last year, was mandated to carry out the execution of bullet-train projects in India.

“In the case of passenger traffic, the boom in the airline sector and its sustained growth in the last few years reflect upon the willingness to pay premium for the shorter transit times between cities,” says the document calling for request for proposal issued recently. “High speed passenger railway system will thus usher in a new transport product not available in the country at present. It will also fill up a vacuum in the current passenger transport scenario.”

Japan has indicated that a joint-venture company could be floated to fund the Ahmedabad-Mumbai corridor although it is not yet finalised. It is currently doing the study the period for which is 18 months.

After visiting Japan recently, Railway Board Chairman Arunendra Kumar said there was perceptible enthusiasm among the Japanese to fund the first bullet train corridor in India.

One of the other main concerns for the bullet train dream is the pricing of the service. As per Railway Board’s internal calculations, one-way ticket in the Mumbai-Ahmedabad corridor could cost more than Rs 5,000.

On papers, Railways has other bullet-train corridors sanctioned in Rail Budget: Hyderabad-Dornakal-Vijayawada-Chennai (664 km), Chennai-Bangalore-Coimbatore-Ernakulam (649 km), Howrah-Haldia (135 km), Delhi-Agra-Lucknow-Varanasi-Patna (991 km).

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