Turned into a focal point for the Railways by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has often referred to the “Bullet Train” on the lines of high-speed trains being operated in Japan and China, the project only finds a fleeting mention in the 2015-16 Railway Budget.
In his budget speech in the Lok Sabha on Thursday, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu reiterated the commitment of the government to “pursue with vigour special projects like high-speed rail corridor between Mumbai and Ahmedabad.” The feasibility study for this is at an advanced stage and the report is expected by this mid-year.
The White Paper on the status of the Railways also referred to the 534-km-long Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed corridor, estimated to cost about Rs. 63,180 crore, and the Chennai-Bengaluru-Mysuru high-speed corridor. Both the projects will be implemented only when found to be financially viable.
But what looks viable in the near future is increasing the speed on some busy inter-metro corridors. Indicating this in his budget speech, the Minister said the speed of nine railway corridors will be increased from the existing 110 kmph and 130 kmph to 160 kmph and 200 kmph respectively so that inter-metro journeys like Delhi-Kolkata and Delhi-Mumbai can be completed overnight.
“This will involve upgradation of tracks, including turnouts and rolling stock, to higher standards as well as the adoption of improved methods of track recording, monitoring and maintenance,” he added.
Railway Ministry officials said trials for running a semi-high speed train like Shatabdi Express on the Delhi-Agra corridor have been completed and the report of the Commissioner of Railway Safety is expected within a month. “This high-speed train is likely to start running within the next couple of months,” the official said.