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Now, bullet trains in India?
Animesh Singh in New Delhi | May 03, 2007 12:27 IST
Railway minister Lalu Prasad's dream to have bullet trains a la Japan in India is at last kicking off the ground.
The ministry has chosen the 500-kilometre stretch between Delhi and Amritsar for a pre-feasibility study along with a survey of potential users, to determine whether high-speed passenger trains would be economically viable.
It is looking at running trains at speeds of 300 km per hour which would provide speedy connectivity to satellite cities. The aim is to shuttle professionals and students from Amritsar and its neighboring towns to Delhi in less than two hours, thus saving time and making it possible for them to come to study and work in the capital on a daily basis.
Once the studies are done, the work on laying the new corridor, which would be an elevated train corridor, may take of by next year. The cost for setting up the Delhi-Amritsar corridor is estimated to be around Rs 25,000 crore. Currently, the fastest trains from Delhi to Amritsar take a minimum of four to five hours.
The proposal for the high-speed corridor has already been sent to the Planning Commission, which has given the ministry a positive feedback. Also the ministry has written to the chief secretaries of Haryana and Punjab asking for participation in the project by partly financing it.
The pre-feasibility report on the stretch and the passenger survey would be done through invitation of bids from consultants.
Railway ministry officials say that once this stretch is found viable, then work could start on developing other proposed stretches like Mumbai-Ahmadabad and Kolkata-Patna.
According to ministry sources, with satellite cities and towns fast becoming IT hubs and producing more professionals, there is a need to provide them faster connectivity to the nearest metropolitan city.
Officials say that various international studies confirm that high speed trains are amongst the most fuel efficient modes of transport and also pollute little, with an annual carbon dioxide emission level of 0.6 tonnes.
Therefore amongst other means of funding this plan, the ministry is apparently also looking at an option of setting up a carbon offset fund, for which states willing to participating in the project, would have to make a one time payment. The share of states would be decided after studying the emission levels of various states.There is a possibility that states may be allotted stations only if they agree to contribute to this fund. Funds, which the railway ministry would be generating through commercial exploitation of its land, would also be used for this project. Also the public private partnership model would also be used.