UIC panel submits report on high-speed rail system in India

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New Delhi, Oct 16 (UNI) Former Railway Board Chairman J P Batra today said the proposal of a high-speed rail system in India was ''extremely practical'' and the Indian government should take a decision on its introduction without any further delay.

Mr Batra, who is Chairman of the High Speed Group, constituted by the Paris-based UIC (International Union of Railways), said the panel had submitted a preliminary report to the Central Government on the high-speed train system (bullet trains).

''We have made it abundantly clear in the report that it is possible to introduce such a train system in India,'' he said.

Mr Batra was was speaking at 'Exporail', a three-day event in which more than 75 exhibitors from 14 countries, including France's Alstom Transport that produces world's fastest train, TGV, are participating to showcase the very latest in railway technology and systems.

Minister of State for Railways R. Velu inaugurated the event, organised by the Britain-based Mac-Brooks Exhibitions.

Mr Batra said bullets trains in India had become imperative, keeping in view the medium-range transport needs of the people in the next 10-15 years and the limitations of surface and air transport.

The Railway Ministry has been dithering over the project because of the high cost and logistics problems and its sustainability once it bcomes operational.

Mr Batra said such an ambitious project would have to be executed on the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model.

He also cited a report of Mckinsey Global Institute, which says that India's middle class population will grow to 58 crore by 2025 from the present five crore while theirincome would treble during the period.

For meeting the transport requirements of this vibrant segment of the Indian population, India would need a railway system with its trains crusing at 300 km per hour, says the report.

About the limitations of the surface and air transport, he said India's aviation sector is clocking an annual growth rate of 35 per cent while 20 lakh new vehicles are being added to road transport.

''Keeping in view the growth rate of surface and aviation sectors, there cannot be any alternative to high-speed rail system in India,'' he asserted.

Mr Batra also pointed out the government must take a decsion on bullet trains at the earliest as it would take some ten years for giving a final shape to the project. Even the preparation of a detailed report would take around two years, he said.

UNI

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