The travel time between Chandigarh and Delhi may not come down so easily. A hefty investment of approximately Rs 600 crore is required to achieve the speed limit of 160 km per hour on the ChandigarhDelhi rail route, as announced in this year’s railway budget.
The railway board is likely to take a final call on the total cost of this project in a cost review meeting scheduled by monthend, sources said.
At present, the ChandigarhDelhi Shatabdi Express takes about three hours and 20 minutes to cover 266 km between Chandigarh and Delhi at a speed of 80-85 km an hour. With the increased speed, the travelling time will come down to two hours. The sources said timely availability of funds would be decisive for the time-bound implementation of the project.
The Delhi-Chandigarh route is managed by two divisions of the northern railway. Delhi Division manages the route from Delhi till Ambala and further Chandigarh-Ambala route is under the control of Ambala division, having its headquarters in Ambala Cantt.
While the estimated cost to achieve the high speed between Delhi-Ambala has come out Rs 400 crore, a budget of little over Rs 200 crore is required for the AmbalaChandigarh route.
Divisional railway manager (DRM), Ambala division, AK Kathpal said, “The division has already submitted a budget proposal of Rs 206 crore to achieve the high speed of 160 kmph on the Ambala-Chandigarh route.
The major cost for this project is for upgrading the track. In case of Ambala-Chandigarh route, the estimated cost of track upgrade is Rs 151 crore and Rs 27 crore will be spent on fencing of the track, besides proper safety measures at level crossings will also be taken care of.”
“We have a review meeting of this project at the end of this month in which the total cost of this project is expected to be freezed,” said Kathpal.
As per officials, on the DelhiAmbala route, automatic signalling system, provision of thick web switches on all crossings and strengthening of curves on the track are the major areas to be fixed before achieving the high speed.
According to the sources, the overall execution of the project may take even two years since it is a capital intensive project and without money nothing will move.
“Eight other routes have also been identified to run trains at the speed of 160 kmph in this year’s budget.
Therefore, it remains to be seen which project gets priority in terms of funding and political will,” said an official seeking anonymity. He added that it would be a big achievement if the work started on ground by the end of this financial year.
City-based lawyer Ajay Jagga said the announcement of Delhi-Chandigarh high speed train must be celebrated.
But the ministry must ensure its implementation at the earliest so that residents enjoy the Chandigarh-Delhi journey with lesser travel distance. “We also request local MP Kirron Kher to ensure its timely implementation,” he added.