Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government said on Tuesday that it will launch the country’s first bullet-train on the Ahmedabad-Mumbai route and a network of high-speed trains connecting major cities.
The announcement was part of the 2014/15 railway budget unveiled by railway minister DV Sadananda Gowda in Parliament.
“It is the dream of every Indian that India runs a bullet train,” Gowda said while presenting his maiden budget.
“It was the vision of our great leader AB Vajpayee that gave us our golden quadrilateral. Today, under the leadership of Sri Narendra Modiji, we are embarking on an ambitious plan to initiate a diamond quadrilateral of high-speed trains connecting major growth centres of the country,” he said.
Gowda said while bullet trains required new infrastructure, the existing network would also be upgraded to increase the speed of trains.
He said the government had set aside an initial `100 crore for the projects which would require huge investment. The “diamond quadrilateral”, or high-speed rail corridor connecting major metros, will need `9 lakh crore, with one bullet-train estimated to cost `60,000 crore.
Last month, the railway minister made a presentation to the prime minister on the possibility of purchasing high-speed train sets from Japanese, French or German vendors.
According to the proposal, two train-sets costing between `170 crore and `300 crore apiece need to be purchased to catapult India to the high-speed club.
These trains are capable of clocking more than 300-350 km per hour, but can also run on existing tracks, albeit at a reduced speed of 130 km per hour. They can cut travel time between Delhi and Mumbai or Delhi and Howrah by about three hours.
Critics question the feasibility of high-speed trains on the country’s creaking infrastructure. The anti-import lobby opposes investing in high-speed trains, saying safety issues should be a priority instead.