While every effort is being made to improve rail connectivity between the financial capital and India’s capital, a new High-Speed Corridor has been proposed at a cost in excess of Rs 4,000 crore, along with special high-speed rakes expected to be procured at a cost of
Rs 550 crore each. However, even before this project is put on the drawing board, there is a conflict of interests among the railway officials in the Rail Ministry and in Mumbai.
In October, a delegation from Japan visited Mumbai and met railway officials in Delhi. The feasibility study for the project was then presented in the railway board meeting earlier this month. “This project is in a nascent stage and things are being worked out,” said Mahesh Kumar, general manager, Western Railway.
Sources said that issues of funding and infrastructure of this ‘golden rail corridor’ were mainly discussed at the meeting. “The Japanese government has shown interest in funding this multi-crore corridor, but wants us to buy the necessary infrastructure, electrical fittings and technical know-how from them, which is way too expensive,” said a senior railway official on condition of anonymity.
This is evident with the approximate cost of each high-speed rake at Rs 550 crore, which is equivalent to buying 18 suburban trains that costs around Rs 30 crore each. The cash-starved Union Railway Ministry also needs to invest over Rs 4,000 crore on basic infrastructure like tracks, signalling system and other components; which is bound to go up due to inflation.
Golden rail corridor
According to plans, the Indian Railways is considering an increase in the speed of passenger trains between Mumbai and Delhi by 70 kmph, from the existing 130 kmph to 200 kmph. This improvement in speed is expected to cut short travel time by 4 to 5 hours on the Mumbai-Delhi routes from the current average 16-hour journey. The probable route studied for this 1,400-km corridor is through Mathura, Kota, Ratlam, Vadodara and Surat.
Officials claim that although the present lot of Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains are capable of running at speeds of 130 kmph, due to constraints in infrastructure, they fail to reach this speed consistently.
There are physical problems in the system too, like rail crossings, animals getting run-over and people crossing tracks blatantly. Sources add that the impact of an accident grows multi-fold even with a miniscule increase in speed of 10 kmph.
“At a time when even a Re 1 hike in suburban fares is opposed from all fronts, how can one expect people to shell out thousands more for travelling in these high-speed trains when they might prefer going by air?” said another railway official on condition of anonymity. Around 20 such high-speed trains have been proposed to be introduced.
Rs 550 crore The cost of one high-speed rake
200 kmph The proposed increased speed of the new passenger trains