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High-speed trains on rail radar

Bhubaneswar, April 7: If feasibility report permits, Indians will no more have to travel to Japan to experience the speed of bullet trains.

The Indian Railways would soon conduct a feasibility study on the possibility of running high-speed bullet trains on five routes in the country.

Talking to reporters here today, the chairman of the Railway Board, Kalyan Coomar Jena, said a global tender would be floated by August to select an international consultant to undertake the feasibility study. “By September we will be ready with a consultant,” he said.

Jena, however, conceded that high-speed trains seemed “improbable” in India, as the project cost would be more than Rs 600 crore per kilometre. Barricading railway tracks to facilitate the trains with a speed of 160-300km per hour is also a must.

However, five states have shown interest in the project. “We have selected five routes for the test,” he said.

The five selected routes are Mumbai-Pune, Mumbai-Ahmedabad, Chennai-Ernakulam via Coimbatore and Bangalore, Delhi-Amritsar and Howrah-Haldia.

Apart from the feasibility study, the chairman of the railway board revealed plans for two world class stations to be built with Chinese assistance on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar and Bangalore during his Bhubaneswar site visit today. He said a Chinese team had already visited the proposed site in the state capital and they would be coming back with a master plan soon. Bhubaneswar is one of the 25 sites identified for the model stations across the country.

However, development of freight corridors would continue to be Indian Railways’ main focus as it helps in revenue generation, Jena stressed.

“We will be spending around Rs 75,000 crore in the next five years to develop corridors and high-density network,” said Jena, adding that the eastern and western corridors would be developed further.

The World Bank has already started appraisal for the eastern corridor and the first round of meeting was just completed, while appraisal for a Japanese loan for the western corridor is underway. Studies for Delhi-Chennai, Mumbai-Calcutta, Chennai-Calcutta and Chennai-Goa corridors are on.

“We had asked for the project reports from the states concerned and have received two reports so far,” he added.

Jena also spoke on the safety measures undertaken by the Indian Railways. Anti-collision devices have been introduced in North Frontier Railway and Konkan Rail. Such devices would be introduced in Southern Railway, South Western Railway and South Central Railway during 2008-09. It would be taken up in rest of railway zones from 2009-10.

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