In what could be termed as one of the most ambitious plans of the Indian Railways, the transporter is set to commission a feasibility and cost study for elevated railway tracks across the 10,000 km length of the Golden Quadrilateral connecting the four metros. This 200-km per hour route study will be in addition to the already ongoing study for on-ground high-speed tracks of same speed between the metro cities. The instruction for the study has been given by railway minister Piyush Goyal. “Since the railways is already surveying feasibility of high-speed on-ground corridors, the idea is to also assess the feasibility and cost of elevated corridors,” said a railway ministry official. To start with, railway arm RITES has been asked to do a preliminary analysis with available data and not an actual on-ground study. “We had asked RITES to do a preliminary assessment and it said it (elevated corridors) can be done at places where the railways has land along the tracks. However, it will not be possible in, say, yards,” the official said, adding that RITES estimates the cost to be around Rs 80 crore per km, excluding land and rolling stock expenses. The cost of Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed elevated corridor (with a speed of more than 250 km per and also known as bullet train) is around Rs 200 crore per km including rolling stock, land, interest cost, among others.
The railways is assessing if the elevated corridors on the six routes — Delhi-Kolkata, Kolkata-Chennai, Chennai-Mumbai, Mumbai-Delhi, Kolkata-Mumbai and Delhi-Chennai — of the Golden Quadrilateral can be done at a reasonable lower cost compared with the cost of bullet train corridors or conversion of existing on-ground tracks to 200 km per hour speed capacity. The length of the six routes is around 10,000 km.
“This will require a very detailed study in each corridor. The minister wants to know if this can be done at a cheap cost and scaled up. Now we have to take a call whether to go for a detailed study and we may start with a small stretch of, say, 500 km,” said the official. The railways will only go for a pan-India study if the results of the first study is encouraging.
The DK Mittal committee in a report submitted in December 2014 had suggested multi-level tracks observing that more than two-third of the highly congested Golden Quadrilateral network is utilised over 100%. This network though accounts for only 20% of the tracks across the country, 55% of the traffic moves on this network. The Indian Railways has one of the largest and busiest rail networks across the world which operates more than 20,000 trains per day including over 12,500 passenger trains in addition to 7,000-plus freight trains. It ferries over 23 million passengers every day from across more than 7,000 railway stations and transports around 3 million tonne of freight daily.
Goyal has earlier scrapped plan for an elevated rail corridor between Churchgate and Virar stations in Mumbai due to financial viability.