The Indian Railways' ambitious project of reducing travel time by interconnecting four major metros - Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata - with high-speed network of trains running at 160 kmph is looking at an August 2022 launch, sources said.
The current average speed of trains on this network is around 88-90 kmph.
Christened Golden Quadrilateral, the project envisages creation of a 10,000 km network of semi-high speed routes connecting the four major cities is likely to be launched on August 15, 2022 to coincide with 75 years of India's Independence.
In a meeting on November 28, the railway board started the process of drawing up a blueprint to interconnect the four metros - Delhi-Mumbai, Delhi-Howrah, Delhi-Chennai, Chennai-Howrah, Chennai-Mumbai and Howrah-Mumbai.
The project has been appraised by NITI Aayog and is awaiting Cabinet sanction which is under process.
"We are still finalising the blueprint and efforts are on to officially launch the project by August 2022 to coincide with the celebrations around India's 75th year of Independence. However, everything depends on how we manage to meet every deadline set for the project," a railway official said.
While the Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Howrah routes were included in Budget 2017-2018 at a cost of Rs 11,189 crore and Rs 6,975 crore respectively, the estimates for the other four routes are under process for inclusion in the works programme 2018-2019.
The board is likely to finalise a detailed cost estimate for the remaining routes by December 31 this year, officials said.
Sources in the ministry say that an extra budgetary allocation of around Rs 36,000 crore will be required for the project.