Plans to run bullet trains at speeds of 300-350 kilometres per hour have been re-activated in the run-up to the 2014 general elections, with railways minister Mallikarjun Kharge set to formally launch a High Speed Rail Corporation at an international conference in New Delhi on Tuesday.
The corporation – which will provide the institutional, administrative and financial framework to design, build or run high speed trains throughout the country – will function as a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV).
This includes the proposed Mumbai-Ahmedabad route. In a joint venture with the Indian Railways, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will shortly begin an 18-month pre-feasibility study on this stretch.
“The JICA has floated global tenders for hiring a consultant for the survey,” chairman railway board Arunendra Kumar told HT.
With the formal launch of the corporation, preliminary work is expected to begin on other identified routes including the Amritsar-Ludhiana-Chandigarh-Delhi stretch and the Bangalore-Chennai route, officials said.
As a precursor to achieving genuine high speeds of 300 kilometres per hour, the railways are exploring low-cost options to upgrade speeds of premier trains including Shatabdis, Rajdhanis and Durantos, from the existing top speed of 120 kmph to 200 kmph by tweaking signaling systems and strengthening existing tracks.
The possibility of a joint venture with a Chinese manufacturer to execute the semi high speed plan is being pursued, an official said. “Concepts and solutions are likely to get clearer after the October 29-30 conference,” he added.