Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda is expected to lay the road map for high-speed (bullet) trains, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet project, in his Railway Budget to be presented within two weeks.
The minister is likely to allocate around Rs 300 crore as seed money to start the preliminary works for the ambitious project. In a presentation to the prime minister recently, Gowda has reportedly explained the required financial resources and other details for the high-speed train projects.
Gowda has already indicated his willingness to open up the railways for foreign direct investment. Hence, he is expected to announce the government’s plan to build high speed trains with foreign investors under public-private partnership arrangement.
If things go as per the plan, the first bullet train will be between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, considered to be a key infrastructure project. Sources said the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) will directly monitor the project and has asked railways to constitute a project steering group to examine for executing it. The state governments of Maharashtra and Gujarat are expected to be stakeholders along with the Railways.
Japan International Cooperation Agency (JAICA) is preparing a feasibility study to run bullet trains on this route and it would likely to complete the study in two months. The 543 km-Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project is estimated to cost around Rs 65,000 crore and JAICA has reportedly offered to set up a joint venture company like the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation for this project and promised to fund 75 per cent of the total cost.
Though RITES and Systra, a French firm, had already carried out the pre-feasibility study of the route, the Japanese study is expected to be a detailed one exploring the possibility of running train at a speed of 300 km per hour between the two cities, sources in the Railway Ministry told Deccan Herald.
JAICA study also involves developing smart cities along with the high-speed train corridor and industrial clusters to recover the investment.