Mumbai: Travelling on the upcoming Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed rail corridor will cost less than air travel, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Wednesday, adding that the project would be completed in six years.
Last year, during Japenese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to India, an announcement was made that the Japan will provide $12 billion (approx. Rs 80 crore) soft loan to build India's first bullet train.
The rail project is estimated to cost about Rs 97,636 crore, with 81 per cent of the funding for the 50-km-long project to come in the form of a loan from Japan. The project cost includes possible cost escalation, interest during construction and import duties.
Maintaining that the ambitious project is doable, Prabhu said in Lok Sabha during Question Hour that the high-speed train project would be cost-effective.
The high speed bullet train is expected to cover 508 km between Mumbai and Ahmedabad in about two hours, running at a maximum speed of 350 kmph and operating speed of 320 kmph. At present, Duronto Express takes about seven hours to cover the distance between the two financial centres.
When it was pointed out that huge funds has been given for the project which might hamper those in other parts of the country, Prabhu said "there was no regional bias. Every state has got more than double than earlier."
The high speed rail project has been sanctioned with technical and financial assistance from the government of Japan and the joint feasibility study of the project has already been done by Japanese International Agency.
The project is being funded by Japan with a soft loan for 50 years at 0.1 per cent annual interest with 15 years' moratorium. Rolling stock and other equipment like signalling and power system will be imported from Japan as per the loan agreement.
Railways have spelt out its policy with regard to running of high speed and semi-high speed trains by identification of potential routes for both kinds of train services.
Prabhu said feasibility studies for other high speed corridors have been awarded to various railway companies.
Delhi-Mumbai high speed corridor has been awarded to the consortium of the Third Railway Survey and Design Institute Group Corporation (Chinese consultant) and Lahmeyer International from India.
Feasibility study of high speed corridors on Mumbai- Chennai, Delhi-Kolkata, Delhi-Nagpur and Mumbai-Nagpur have also been awarded to diffent global consultants.
Prabhu said railways have identified nine corridors for feasibility of semi-high speed rail.
The semi-high speed routes are Delhi-Chandigarh, Chennai-Bengaluru-Mysore, Delhi-Kanpur, Nagpur-Bilaspur, Mumbai-Goa, Mumbai-Ahmedabad, Chennai-Hyderabad and Nagpur-Secunderabd.
(With inputs from PTI)