Thursday, August 16, 2007

French team to sign MoU for high-speed rail corridor for loss making zones: What about backward & neglected but profit making zone like ECOR?

The Hindu, Aug 11, 2007

New Delhi, Aug. 11 (PTI): An expert team from the French Railway is coming to India for carrying out technical feasibility study of the high-speed rail corridor this month-end.

The team arriving on August 26 would visit some of the proposed sites for the high-speed corridors to prepare a detailed study report suggesting possible measures for going ahead with the project.

If everything goes well, the team is likely to sign an MoU with the government to assist the Indian Railway in the project, a senior Railway Ministry official said.

The high-speed corridor, also known as bullet train proposal, comprises four routes and is estimated to cost about Rs 25,000 crore for each route.

The proposed routes -- Delhi-Chandigarh-Amritsar, Mumbai-Baroda-Ahmedabad, Chennai-Bangalore-Coimbatore and Howrah-Asansol-Patna -- were announced in the current Rail Budget. The corridor aims at reducing the travel time drastically.

Besides carrying out the feasibility study by the French team, the Railways would also form a high-speed commission to expedite the project on a public-private participation basis.

Earlier, a preliminary study was conducted by the RITES for 492-km Mumbai-Ahmedabad route. "However, we need a more detailed study to go ahead with the ambitious Rs 1-lakh crore project," said the official involved with the project.

The French team is expected to provide more detailed inputs focusing on technicalities, financial implication, traffic pattern, funding plan, stakeholders' view, fare structure and other related issues before beginning the work.

"Besides France, we are also seeking help from Japan in the bullet train project," said the official adding, the basic research done by Japan and France in high-speed trains are essential ingredients in the project.

The study on bullet train project is required for the involvement of financial institutions and the industry while the government is for viability gap funding.

Since the corridor is expected to cost about Rs 50 crore per km, state governments and civic bodies have also been approached for sharing the expenditure.

"Many states like Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Punjab have agreed to part-fund the project," said the official.

The Rs 1-lakh crore investment in the bullet train project is over a third of the entire Rs 2.5 lakh crore allocation for the Railways under the 11th Plan

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