Indian Plans High-Speed Rail Development
May 5, 2007 (LPAC) -- The Indian Railway Ministry is undertaking a pre-feasibility study for a potential high-speed rail line, which would be the first-ever in India. Railway minister Lalu Prasad has chosen the 500-km route between Delhi and Amritsar for the study, which will examine the potential use for a 300-km/h rail link to see if it would be economically viable, according to the Indian Business Standard of May 3. Potential users, according to the Standard report, would be professionals and students from Amritsar and its surrounding towns, who would use the new rail line to work and study in the Indian capital. High-speed rail would reduce travel time to less than two hours, down from the current 4-5 hours.
Work on the new rail corridor could begin as early as next year, once the studies are completed. The cost would be $6 billion. The proposal has already been sent to the Planning Commission, which has reacted favorably, the Business Standard reported. The Rail Ministry has also requested support from the states of Haryana and Punjab. If this rail corridor is found viable, then other corridors such as Mumbai-Ahmadabad and Kolkata-Patna will be considered. The main criterion for the high-speed rail connections, it would appear from the Standard report, are cities and towns which are or are becoming "IT hubs."
While this line would not use magnetic levitation technology, maglev technology was noted as one Japan might share with India, when the two sides signed their Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to create the Indo-Japan Joint Working Group on Urban Development on May 1, ANI (Asian News International) reported. When Indian Union Minister for Urban Development Jaipal Reddy and Tetsuzo Fuyshiba, Japanese Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport signed the agreement in New Delhi, Reddy said that the Japanese Bank for International Cooperation will loan over US$1.36 billion for a mass transit system for Delhi. "Japan is renowned for its advanced urban transport technologies in the field of Metro Rail, Mono Rail, Linear Metro and Maglev. Some of these are being introduced in India also. We would welcome technical collaboration with Japanese experts for setting up such systems in other metropolitan cities," Reddy said. India will have to meet the challenges of large-scale urbanization without delay, Reddy emphasized.