Semi-high speed trains will dash on Indian tracks at a speed of 200 kilometres per hour this year.
The Railways plan to acquire six train-sets from European or Japanese manufacturers and "we expect that one or two of these will become operational this year," chairman Railway Board (CRB) Vinay Mittal said.
Railways minister Pawan Kumar Bansal is likely to elaborate on the acquisition plan in his budget speech in February.
The train sets have the potential to run at a speed of 300 to 325 kilometres per hour and run on the standard gauge world-over, but the Indian consignment will be customised, enabling them to run at lesser speed ( 200 km per hour) on the existing Broad Gauge tracks.
“The Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (a railways PSU) is in the process of completing formalities relating to the acquisition plan. These will be acquired through global tenders,” Mittal said.
A Japanese-sponsored study on running the semi high-speeds in India has been completed and the report is likely to be submitted shortly to the Railway Board.
Though the Japanese consortium chose the Delhi-Mumbai line for the study, the Indian Railways is likely to pilot the semi-high speeds to connect cities that are 500 to 600 kilometres apart.
Delhi-Amritsar and Delhi-Lucknow are likely to be the possible routes to run the semi-high speeds, an official said.
Meanwhile, the plans to run bullet trains (300-325 kmph speed) on the identified Mumbai-Ahmedabad route appear to have been put on the back-burner. "It is a hugely capital intensive area and the Railways are not so much cash happy at the moment," a senior official said.
Building high speed corridors on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad route is estimated to cost Rs.65,000 crore.
But the plans to set up a rail tariff regulatory authority are likely to be shortly implemented, officials said.
Proposed as an advisory body, the tariff authority will help de-link railways operations from political considerations, while enabling the public transporter to rationalise freight and passenger tariffs.