Railway Minister Lalu Prasad,who has an ambitious plan for introducing high-speed train corridor in the country,took a ride on the bullet train in Tokyo on Tuesday.
Prasad,accompanied by senior railway officials,got first hand experience of the fast trains travelling from Tokyo to Kyoto at a speed of about 300 km per hour. He boarded Shinkansen — the Japanese name for the bullet train from the Tokyo station at 9.10 am (local time).
The Tokyo-Kyoto bullet train ride normally takes about two hours and 20 minutes to cover the distance of about 515 km between the two stations.
Later in the evening,he and his team will travel to Shin-Kobe by another bullet train. The team is also scheduled to again travel to Tokyo from Shin-Osaka station by Shinkansen on Wednesday.
Prasad is leading the team from the ministry to Japan to have a detailed discussion for a loan for the Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC).
Meanwhile,the Railways have invited global tenders for conducting pre-feasibility study of high-speed train corridor on the Delhi-Chandigarh-Amritsar route.
The study will focus on technicalities,financial and operational viability of the project,said a senior Railway Ministry official.
Besides the Delhi-Amritsar route,the Railways have decided to conduct pre-feasibility studies for four more high-speed passenger routes.
The routes are Pune-Mumbai-Ahmedabad,Hyderabad-Dornakal-Vijaywada-Chennai,Chennai-Bangalore-Coimbatore-Ernakulum and Howrah-Haldia.
The pre-feasibility studies will be followed by detailed project reports which will focus on traffic pattern,funding plan,stakeholders’ view,fare structure and other related issues before beginning the work.
The dedicated high-speed train corridor is estimated to cost about Rs 50 crore per km. During his stay in Japan from January 12 to 16,Prasad will hold a series of meetings with Japanese ministers and dignitaries to discuss various issues related to bilateral co-operation between India and Japan in the rail sector.
Prasad will also travel to Singapore on January 17 to address the faculty and the students of Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.
Besides Japan,there are some other countries like France and Germany which have shown interest in being part of India’s high-speed train corridor project.
Since the proposed Delhi-Amritsar bullet train is to pass through Panipat,Ambala,Chandigarh and Jalandhar,the cost of the pre-feasibility study would be shared by Punjab,Haryana and Railway Ministry.
The idea is to construct a high-speed corridor in each region — northern,western,southern and eastern — of the country,the official said.
The study on the bullet train project is required for the involvement of financial institutions and industries,while the government will give stress on viability gap funding.
Many states like Gujarat,Haryana,Karnataka,Punjab,Maharashtra,Kerala,West Bengal have agreed to part-fund the project.