Bansal: Bullet trains an aspirational project

The steep project cost of bullet trains in India, given its current state of finances, led Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal to call it an aspirational project on Friday.

"This is an aspirational project. The cost involved in the 534-km Mumbai-Ahmedabad project is gigantic. It is estimated to cost about Rs 63,000 crore," he told Indian Railways' international seminar on high-speed rail. The national transporter is in consultation with other countries and private players to figure out a suitable financing model for its six bullet-train corridors.

It plans to set up a High-Speed Rail Corporation apart from a High Speed Rail Authority. "We cannot create just another class of travellers for bullet trains. It should be affordable to all," Bansal said. "Our aim is to make tangible progress but not possible to give a timeline," he added.

"The expansion of bullet trains is still limited to a few countries. The reason perhaps is the high cost of such trains and the paying capacity of people in the developing countries. There is a need to develop an appropriate financial model," said Vinay Mittal, Chairman of the Railway Board. According to the ministry, it costs between Rs 90-120 crore per kilometre to build a bullet-train corridor. "Such an investment may not be possible entirely through government funding," said Kul Bhushan, Member (Electrical) in the Railway Board.

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