India, Japan to study high-speed rail feasibility

Written by Rajat Arora | New Delhi | Updated: Jun 27 2013, 05:54am hrs
India has finally started work towards realising its ambition of having a high-speed rail network. The railways is working out the modalities of a joint feasibility study of the new rail system on the 534-km Mumbai-Ahmadabad corridor to be undertaken with Japan.

The agreement on the feasibility study, to be conducted with the Japanese Railways Group, will be ready within a month, and the study will commence after that. Details of the project would be worked out thereafter, before work on the ground begins.

We are working out the modalities of the study with Japan that will go into the cost estimates of the project along with the financing pattern.

The study will be partly financed by Japan and the ratio is being worked out. In a months time well work out the modalities

after which well go ahead with the study, a Railway Board official told FE.

During his recent visit to Japan, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh agreed to a joint feasibility study with Japanese experts for constructing the high-speed corridor between Mumbai and Ahmadabad.

The feasibility study includes defining high speed for India (which could be 300-350 km per hour), the fares and the finance practices, including public-private partnerships.

Japan is keen on investing in high-speed railway corridors in India. During Singhs May visit, Tokyo had strongly pitched for exporting its Shinkansen system (high-speed Bullet Train railway technology) to New Delhi.

The Japanese government is also ready to offer a sweetener to India, as Tokyo fights off competition from nations such as France and its TGV high-speed rail network, the railway board official added.

Japan has already submitted its final report of the feasibility study on upgrading the speed of the existing Mumbai-Ahmadabad route to 160-200 km per hour and further consultations on the report between the two countries are on.

Japan is also investing in other mega-infrastructure projects in India such as the 1,500-km western part of the dedicated freight corridors.

A high-speed rail network between Mumbai and Ahmadabad is expected to cost around R65,000 crore and India has shortlisted five more corridors connecting major cities. The Mumbai-Ahmadabad corridor is being undertaken as a pilot project.

Frances state-owned railway company SNCF has also undertaken a feasibility study for the same corridor and the French government is financing the study with a grant of 600,000 euros. That study is expected to be complete by the end of this year. China has also evinced interest in investing in high-speed train corridors in India, the official said.