Published On:November 25 2014
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'Rs. 90,000-cr Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed train project will have to be largely Govt-funded'

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pet project, the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed train, can cost up to Rs. 90,000 crore, will give low internal returns and will have to be largely funded by Government, said experts at an Indo-French Rail seminar.

According to the findings of French railway operator SNCF, even if the project were to be implemented through public-private partnership (PPP), at least 50 per cent of the cost will have to be borne by the Government, said Philippe Lorand, Senior VP-Business Development-India, South Asia and South East Asia, International Development Team, SNCF.

The project will require major financial support from the Government and will operate at a low internal rate of return of 2.4 per cent over the life, he added.

India should consider both high-speed and semi-high-speed rail services, as the latter are much cheaper and can be put in place in three years, SNCF has pointed out.

The Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed train project is expected to cost between Rs. 70,000 crore and Rs. 90,000 crore, said Girish Pillai, advisor infrastructure, Railway Board, at the seminar.

He said the Railways can run trains at 160 kmph by upgrading its current network at a cost of Rs. 2-4 crore per km while a high-speed line is expected to cost about Rs. 150 crore per km. The time taken to travel between Mumbai and Ahmedabad will go down to four hours and 15 minutes against the current travel time of six-seven hours, Pillai added.

MS Mathur, Executive Director – PPP, Railway Board, said the annual capital expenditure of Indian Railways is about Rs. 30,000 crore, including the dedicated freight corridor, which will make it difficult to fund high-speed trains from current resources.

So, tying up the finances is extremely important – more so with the participation of municipal bodies and State Governments – which are expected to be the beneficiaries, he added.


HBL


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