Plans to connect major Indian cities including Mumbai-Ahmedabad and Delhi-Patna with bullet trains that will zip about at speeds of 300-350 kilometers per hour (kmph) have been set into motion. The Indian Railways last month moved a note to the Union cabinet proposing to set up of a National High Speed Rail Authority (NHSRA).
The authority – once set up – will also supervise activities relating to plans to run high speed trains connecting Delhi with major townships in nearby states including Panipat, Meerut and Alwar.
While the ministry of urban transport has competing claims on becoming the nodal agency for the National Capital Region (NCR) connectivity plan, it has evidently been pipped in the race by the Railways – which has staked its claims first.
While the bullet trains plan is hugely capital intensive, the NCR rail connectivity project is being considered more practicable.
“Without much greater investment in infrastructure creation, it would be eminently possible to run fast trains at speeds ranging of 160 kmph (up gradable to 200 kmph)”, senior officials said.
The NCR connectivity project envisages a fast train on the Delhi-Gurgaon-Rewari-Alwar route – covering the 188 kilometers distance in 117 minutes, with a daily rider ship of 7.43 lakh by 2016.
Other routes include the Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut route covering the 90 kilometers distance in 63 minutes, with a projected daily ridership of 5.11 lakhs.
The 109 kilometer distance from Delhi to Panipat is planned to be covered in 61 minutes, with a projected daily ridership of 2.77 lakhs.
Tracks to run trains at 160 kmph can be built at a cost of Rs 3 per kilometer, while cost for laying tracks for bullet trains works out to approximately Rs.25 crore per kilometer.
Estimates are that an astounding Rs 60, 000 crore will need to be spent to construct tracks to run a bullet train from Mumbai to Ahmedabad.
Passenger coaches of a bullet train also come at a huge cost. Twenty four coaches of a bullet train will cost an estimated Rs 1,352 crores. For this amount, the Indian Railways can acquire 676 numbers of the German-made LHB coaches at the rate of Rs 2 crore per coach.