Bansal talks of high speed trains amid financial constraints

New Delhi, Feb 1 (IANS) It is high time India started thinking of high-speed trains as rapid urbanization, growing economy, rising level of educated work force and higher levels of income have caused growth in inter-city travel, said Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal Friday though finances remain a concern.

"High speed train services may be required to fulfill the demand gap for faster intercity and inter-regional movement of passenger traffic," Bansal said, inaugurating an international seminar on "High Speed Trains in India-Issues & Options", organised by the Institute of Railway Electrical Engineers (IREE) here.

"In view of the growing economy there is a need to constantly improve infrastructure and address the issues of mobility of people. It is necessary to keep pace with the latest developments taking place world over in railway sector and technology," said Bansal.

Referring to his own experience of high-speed train travel in Japan, South Korea and France, the minister said: "It is high time to think of such rail projects in India as well."

He said a Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed rail project needed a whopping Rs.63,000 crore which was a challenging task.

"The experts will have to work on a financial model which will be win-win situation for all stakeholders. While these high-speed services are premium services, the Indian model needs to be worked out which makes it more affordable to bulk of the customers," said Bansal.

According to Bansal, six such high-speed corridors have been identified for techno-economic feasibility studies.

The pre-feasibility reports are at various stages of preparation and study, he said.

The government has already identified Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed corridor as the pilot project. A Project Steering Group has been constituted to examine the options available for the project and suggest mechanisms for quickly moving forward.

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