Train travel time between Chandigarh and Delhi may reduce to a just two hours as the first railway budget of the new NDA government at the Centre put the route among nine sectors set to get trains that would run at 160-200 km per hour.
Plus, a six-days-a-week express train was also announced connecting Chandigarh with Ferozepur, for another regular link of the state capital with border areas of Punjab. Exact timings will come later.
Sachan, however, said the overall execution of the project may “take even two years” since a lot of technical work is required to achieve the speed. “For instance, we need automatic signaling system, provision of thick web switches on all crossings and strengthening of curves on the track, among other measures,” he said. “The estimated cost could go up to Rs 400 crore since the route has more than 300 crossings.”
Recently, a similar train did a test run between on the 200km route between Delhi and Agra, and reached in 90 minutes. “We were able to touch 160km/hour on the Delhi-Agra route as the Bhopal Shatabdi on that route was already running at 140,” Sachan said.
But even as city residents appeared excited about the announcement, and BJP MP Kirron Kher was all praise, former Congress MP and exrailway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said the city had got virtually nothing. “Preparation for the high-speed train routes also started a year and a half ago during the UPA term. Also, even trains with speed of 160-200 km an hour fall under the category of ‘semi-high-speed trains’, not ‘high-speed trains’ as proposed in the budget,” said Bansal. There was some noise about it being a ‘bullet train’ but it must be mentioned here that bullet trains — most popularly used in Japan — run at 240–320km/hour.
The Chandigarh president of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Manmohan Singh, said, “Overall, the budget is progressive. This government is thinking of railways not only as a service but also as a business.” President of Chandigarh Hospitality Association, Ankit Gupta, said though the budget did not bring much for Chandigarh, “the move by the government towards allowing foreign direct investment (FDI) and privatisation of railways is welcome”.