Railways to conduct pre-feasibility study on high speed trains

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New Delhi, Jan 8 (UNI) Faced with a stiff competition from low cost, no frills airlines, the Railway Ministry said it is serious about introducing high speed trains and plans to appoint a contractor within ''three-four months'' for conducting a pre-feasibility study for the project.

''Several states have shown interest in high speed trains, and we are going to carry out a pre-feasibility study for the project on a sharing model with them,'' Railway Board Chairman K C Jena said.

Mr Jena said the Railway Ministry had sent letters to some states, asking them to fund the project on a sharing model. He, however, did not disclose the names of states which had been approached by the ministry.

''We are going to appoint a contractor in the next three-four months for determining the feasbility of such trains on five-six sectors,'' he said.

Mr Jena said the ministry had received positive response from a number of state governments for the introduction of high speed trains and the pre-feasibility survey would be made to determine their potential.

Mandarins at the Rail Bhavan point out that the concept of a bullet train was not a high priority project earlier. But with countries like Japan, Korea, China and Germany having this prestigious train, the Indian Railways felt that it was time for India also to enter this niche segment.

Currently, a Shatabdi Express train, operating on the Agra-Delhi route at a speed of 150 km per hour, the fastest train in the country.

The ministry has plans to divide the country into four regions -- South, East, North and West -- for taking up a pre-feasibility study before conducting a full- fledged feasibility study.

Nine states -- Punjab, Haryana, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra, Gujarat and West Bengal -- have agreed 'in principle' to participate in the pre-feasibility study for high speed passenger trains running through their territories.

Mr Batra said the ministry had approached some state governments to ascertain their views on the project and for possible support in form of land, right way to build elevated tracks and equity for the the proposed project.

''Pre-feasibility studies are to be conducted. These studies will take about two years, on the basis of recommendation of these studies, a decision to start the work will be taken,'' he said.

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