Bullet train plan on the fast track

Pushed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, railways minister Mukul Roy has got into top gear to implement the bullet train concept, which is expected to dash about the countryside at speeds ranging from 300 to 350 km per hour.
After mid-July’s meeting convened by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to discuss the concept, the railway officials have swung into action to implement the plan.
A High Speed Rail Corporation (HSRC) was set up last week and the project is planned to be executed through a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), sources said. A formal announcement on the plan is likely to be made later this month.
The Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL) — a PSU — has been given the task of putting in place the institutional and administrative mechanisms for creating the SPV.
The railways minister has also set up a steering group to oversee implementation plans and work out the financial models. Led by railway board chairman Vinay Mittal, this group includes finance commissioner Vijaya Kanth and two other railway board members.
The group’s first meeting in last week saw an emerging consensus on the 650 km-long Pune-Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed corridor which will be taken up as the inaugural project. Consultancy for pre-feasibility studies on the corridor — conducted by Ms Systra (France), Ms Italffer (Italy) and Ms RITES — has been completed and the final report has been submitted to the railways ministry.
In the five years that the Pune-Mumbai-Ahmedabad corridor has been in the pipeline, project cost has continued to jump from an estimated Rs.30,000cr to Rs.70, 000cr. Current estimates suggest cost might go up to Rs.100, 000 cr.

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