Come 2031, a bullet train may well zip from Delhi to Varanasi (presently PM Modi’s constituency) in less than 3 hours! The very same high-speed train will help you complete a journey between Delhi to Lucknow within 2 hours. Indian Railways, in its move to reduce the train journey time on the Golden Quadrilateral, has asked for various high-speed rail feasibility studies to be undertaken. The draft final report of one such study for the Delhi-Kolkata stretch is ready and proposes that with a bullet train, people will be able to travel between Delhi-Varanasi in 2 hours and 37 minutes, and between Delhi-Lucknow in 1 hour and 38 minutes. That’s a distance of 720 km and 440 km respectively! The Delhi-Kolkata high-speed corridor will cover a distance of 1474.5 km.
Talking to FE Online about the study, Anil Saxena the Spokesperson of Indian Railways said, “This study is being done by three Messrs – Spain’s INECO, TYPSA and ICT. Right now the draft final report has been submitted to Railways. Various divisions will now study and give their inputs, which in turn will be incorporated by these firms in their final report.” “The final report will be submitted to the Railway Board in 2 months time and after that, a decision on the project will be taken,” he added.
According to the report details shared by Indian Railways with FE Online, the entire project will cost around Rs 1.21 lakh crore, with the Delhi-Varanasi stretch estimated to be at Rs 52,680 crore. The report states that if the project were to commence in 2021, then the Delhi to Varanasi stretch should be ready in ten years time. The Delhi to Lucknow high-speed train corridor should be complete in 8 years time, that is by 2029, says the report. A station for the train is proposed near the Akshardham Temple in Delhi. Some of the stops of the train would include Greater Noida, Aligarh and Jaunpur. A maximum operational speed of 300 km/hr has been considered, with a commercial speed of 250 km/hr.
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How much would a train ticket cost? The report assumes a base fare of Rs 4.5 per kilometre. This would mean that for travelling between Delhi to Varanasi you will have to shell out at least Rs 3,240 (720*4.5) and for Delhi to Lucknow the minimum fare would work out to be Rs 1,980 (440*4.5).
High-Speed Rail Corporation is the nodal agency for these feasibility studies. Delhi-Mumbai and Mumbai-Chennai bullet train corridors are also under the High-Speed Rail Corporation. Feasibility studies are also being undertaken for the Delhi-Chandigarh and Delhi-Amritsar corridors. The construction for Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project – India’s first bullet train project – will start in September this year and is expected to be ready by 2023. Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has said that the cost of travelling in a bullet train will be less than air fares. Meanwhile, Indian Railways is also working on Mission Raftaar to double the average speeds of freights trains and increase the average speed of superfast mail/express trains by 25 km/hr in the next 5 years.