Bullet Train

Kolkata, Feb 12: A bullet train to run between Kolkata and Varanasi! The idea may sound farfetched at this moment but the Railway Ministry has ordered a survey and preparation of a Detailed Project Report (DPR) for such a high-speed corridor.

This is one of the seven routes across the country for which surveys and preparation of DPRs have been ordered. However, none of the projects have been sanctioned as yet, Minister of Railways Ashwini Vaishnaw informed the Rajya Sabha on February 11.

The minister also placed before the Rajya Sabha details of the only sanctioned High-Speed Rail Project (Bullet Train Corridor) in the country between Mumbai and Ahmedabad. This corridor is being constructed with technical and financial support from the Government of Japan.

A senior Indian Railways (IR) official said that “All statutory clearances relating to forests, wildlife, and Coastal Regulatory Zones have been obtained. Of the 1,396 ha of land required for the project, about 1,193 ha have been acquired. The project has been divided into 27 contract packages. Of these 12 have already been awarded. Three are under evaluation and tenders have been invited for 4 more. Of the 352 km stretch in Gujarat, Dadra, and Nagar Haveli, civil work has begun in 342 km. This was stated by the minister in his written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha.”

IR does anticipate a cost escalation but the details and the timeline can only be announced after the total land has been acquired and all contracts finalized.

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The fact that is making  Varanasi-Howrah high-speed rail corridor more interesting is that a similar corridor between New Delhi and Varanasi is on the list of projects for which surveys will be undertaken and DPRs prepared. If these projects are ever sanctioned and completed, people could travel between Howrah and New Delhi in a few hours by changing trains at Varanasi. This could reduce the time taken to travel by train from Kolkata to New Delhi by half. Imagine boarding a Bullet Train at Howrah station at 8 am and reaching New Delhi around 4 pm.

The other high-speed corridors under consideration are between Delhi-Amritsar, Delhi-Ahmedabad, Mumbai-Nagpur, Mumbai-Hyderabad, and Chennai-Bangalore-Mysore, Vaishnaw stated in his reply.