Thursday, July 17, 2014

Railway budget may push Mumbai-Ahm bullet train

Mumbai: The first Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed train proposal may get a push in the new government's maiden rail budget, considering Prime Minister Narendra Modi's promise of a diamond quadrilateral of bullet trains to connect the four major cities of Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai.
A high-speed train will run at a maximum speed of 320km/h and cover 534km between the two cities in two hours.
Railway officials in Mumbai said a lot of brainstorming has gone into taking the Mumbai-Ahmedabad train project forward as it involves Modi's home state of Gujarat. An official said, "Japan International Consortium is expected to complete the project feasibility report by 2015. However, trains are most likely to originate at Bandra-Kurla Complex."
Moreover, it has been decided that the corridor will not have more than five stations, against the initial plan for 11.
"The station's location at Ahmedabad is yet to be finalized, but the train in all likelihood will start in Mumbai at BKC and travel to Thane (near Diva), before heading towards Palghar via Virar. It will then follow the existing alignment in Gujarat with halts at Surat, Vadodara and Ahmedabad."
The official said in Mumbai, the corridor will run underground between BKC and Thane.
An official said, "The project is going to be major challenge as apart from engineering challenges, we will also have to overcome other hurdles such as land acquisition, cooperation, relief and rehabilitation of project-affected people and raising of funds."
The railways is keen to implement this project on a public-private partnership (PPP) basis with Maharashtra and Gujarat as stakeholders. The project was originally planned as the Pune-Mumbai-Ahmedabad corridor. Railway officials, though, said its Pune-Mumbai leg may not be financially viable.
An official said, "Thane has been provided with an option to connect the bullet trains to Pune in future."
A view prevails in the state government that the proposed Mumbai-Ahmedabad route will primarily benefit Gujarat more as the route covers three of its premier cities—Surat, Vadodara and Ahmedabad. None of Maharashtra's major cities, except Mumbai, will benefit, the official said.
A pre-feasibility study for the Pune-Mumbai-Ahmedabad route was conducted by French consultancy firm Systra. Indian Railways, though, has decided to abandon the Pune-Mumbai leg of this stretch as it could turn out to be a loss-making proposition due to poor patronage.

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