A feasibility study on introducing high-speed trains in India, with speeds of above 250 km per hour, is being conducted by experts from abroad. A report will be submitted in six months, Praveen Kumar, member of the Railway Board, said on Tuesday.

Addressing presspersons on the sidelines of a seminar by the Rail Wheel Factory (RWF) here, he said that feasibility for Bangalore-Hubli, Bombay-Ahmedabad and Delhi-Chandigarh trains was being considered and State governments had shown interest in sharing expenditure. A project of this kind would have to be commercially viable and attempts were being made to get funding for it through public-private partnership, he added.

Once the feasibility study was done, one project would be taken up on a pilot basis. It would require dedicated tracks without level crossings, he said.

Gaps in funding

Speaking at the seminar, R.K. Upadhyay, General Manager, RWF, said that there was a gap between the growth of rail and road transport, and the 11th Five Year Plan showed a “bias against railways” in funding pattern as opposed to other transport sectors.

Mr. Upadhyay said that the increase in funding in the 11th Plan for railways was by less than one per cent (.98 per cent) as against civil aviation, which had seen an increase of 180 per cent, shipping (200 per cent) and road (80 per cent). There was a steady decline in funding to railways over successive five-year plans, he added.

He pointed out that rail services were far more economical in terms of fuel consumption and casualties caused. But unlike China and countries in Europe, the rate of expansion, investment and thrust to technological advances was low, he said.

‘Improve quality’

Governor H.R. Bharadwaj emphasised the need to improve quality and punctuality of rail services within the existing structure, citing Rajdhani as a model. Rail, road and inland navigation had to improve simultaneously, he added.

Minister of State for Railways K.H. Muniyappa said that there was a demand for export from the Rail Wheel Factory and there was a seven-per cent increase in production over the last one year.