Railways have decided to sign an agreement with Spain for exploring the possibilities of introducing bullet train service and improvement of safety features in train operation in the country.
The memorandum of understanding, to be signed with Spanish Railways, will be in operation for three years.
Besides introducing high-speed rail service, Railways will avail Spanish expertise for increasing the speed of passenger trains on existing track, as per the agreed agenda of the agreement.
Railways are in the process of setting up a high-speed rail authority to run trains at 300 km/hour speed on seven selected routes.
"We have plans to develop high-speed train service in the country and currently we are in the process of carrying out pre-feasibility study on seven identified corridors," a senior Railway Ministry official said.
Spanish consultant Eneco has been hired to carry out studies in the Howrah-Haldia (135 km) route and it has submitted the initial report. Spain has a modern railway network linking all major towns and cities.
The identified routes for proposed bullet train service are Pune-Mumbai-Ahemedabad (650 km), Delhi-Chandigarh-Amritsar (450km), Delhi-Lucknow-Patna (991 km), Hyderabad-Chennai (644km), Chennai-Bengaluru-Thiruvanthapuram (850 km) and Delhi-Jaipur-Jodhpur (591 km).
Railways have roped in French firm Systra for Pune-Mumbai-Ahmedabad (650 km) route while UK-based consultant Mott McDonald has been engaged to conduct the pre-feasibility study of the Delhi-Agra-Lucknow-Varanasi-Patna (991 km) route.
According to an estimate, it will cost about Rs 100 crore (Rs 1 billion) to construct one km high-speed corridor.
As per the preliminary report, ridership revenues would be able to cover the operating cost of the project.
State governments and financial institutions are expected to be stakeholders of the high-speed rail corridor projects which will be executed in PPP mode.