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Can India have its first bullet train that would run at a speed of 350 km per hour?
The proposal is being explored by Indian Railways with the help of three companies, including a French and an Italian firm.
The report of the feasibility study, being conducted on 533-km long Pune-Mumbai-Ahmedabad section, is expected to be submitted next month that will give an idea to the government whether or not to go ahead with such a proposal.
"After examining the report, we will decide on the next course of action," a senior railway official told PTI. Click NEXT to read on further. . .
The feasibility study is being conducted by Systra of France and Italferr of Italy along with RITES.
For a bullet train, a dedicated corridor would have to be built and officials estimate that each kilometre of such a train would cost about Rs 100-150 crore (Rs 1-1.5 billion).
The feasibility study is examining the possible alignment, fare structure and volume of passengers in the proposed high-speed corridor.
Besides the elevated route, study will look at the possibility of underground route for the high-speed corridor.
"The cost of the feasibility study is about Rs 15 crore (Rs 150 million) and it is being shared by railways and Maharashtra government equally," said the official.
Even while the feasibility study is underway, Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has offered his country's expertise in such modern technology.
During his just-concluded visit, Hatoyama said he would like to see bullet train technology in India and pointed out that Japanese bullet trains have never been involved in any accident.
Indian Railways will await the feasibility report of the proposed bullet train before deciding on seeking Japanese help for it.
According to an estimate, it will cost about Rs 100-150 crore to construct one kilometer of elevated high-speed rail corridor.
"At present there is no such proposal to seek Japanese assistance on bullet train. But it can be explored only after examining various factors including the cost and the pre-feasibility report," said the official.
The bullet train at 350 km per hour speed aims to reduce the travel time between Pune and Mumbai to just 25 minutes and the travel time from Mumbai to Ahmedabad will shrink to less than two hours.
Travel time between the 93 km Pune-Mumbai is three hours while journey on 440 km long Mumbai-Ahmedabad takes about 7 hours. The study will focus on technicalities, financial and operational viability of the project.
The proposed corridor will serve the cities of Pune, Lonavala, Kandla, Kalyan, Mumbai, Surat, Bharuch, Vadodara, Anand and Gandhinagar.
Railways have decided to conduct feasibility study for high speed corridors on six routes, including Pune-Mumbai-Ahmedabad. The other routes are Delhi-Patna, Delhi-Chandigarh-Amritsar, Howrah-Haldia, Hyderabad-Dornakal-Vijaywada-Chennai and Chennai-Bangalore-Coimbatore-Ernakulum routes for the proposed high speed train.
"We will take up the Delhi-Chandigarh-Amritsar route for feasibility study next," said the official.
States such as Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Punjab, Maharashtra, Kerala, West Bengal have agreed to partly fund the project.Delhi-Chandigarh-Amritsar route is the next to be taken up for the pre-feasibility study, the official said.
The feasibility studies will be followed by detailed project reports which will focus on funding plan, stakeholders' view among others before beginning the work.
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.