The National High Speed Rail Corporation of India (NHSRCL) has invited bids for carrying out stage-1 preliminary route development (alignment and aerial design) for new high speed rail corridors for Chennai-Bengaluru-Mysuru route.
Trains can run at a maximum speed of over 300 km/hr on a high-speed corridor.
This, even though Bengaluru awaits the central cabinet approval of having a full fledged suburban rail system like what is present in other big cities in the country despite decades of delay. In fact, the Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs (CCEA) which met on Wednesday did not take up the issue even though it was again mentioned in the Union Budget presented on February 1, and has suffered inordinate delays in the past.
The omission of the Bengaluru suburban rail issue in Wednesday’s CCEA meeting has prompted unhappy responses among activists in Bengaluru on social media.
Srinivas Alavilli, co-founder of Citizens for Bangalore, said, “Are we on the CCEA agenda today? If not, why not?
Similarly, Rajkumar Dugar, convenor of the NGO Citizens 4 Citizens and another suburban rail activist tweeted, “another opportunity lost-union budget "approved" bluru's subrly project.however,real work cannot start without ccea approval.finministry sent file2cab a week ago.this subject was not taken up in today's cab mtg. extremely painful wait4entire bengaluru&surroundings. 19 feb 2020 ?”
Meanwhile, the Chennai-Bengaluru-Mysuru route is among five routes for which the tenders for route development have been called.
Earlier, a German expert delegation had carried out a technical feasibility study for running trains at high speeds of 300 km/hr. Recently in June, 2019, Rail Minister Piyush Goyal had told the parliament that although the feasibility study was done, there was no cabinet note done at that point.
The other routes are Delhi-Jaipur-Udaipur-Ahmedabad (886 km), Mumbai-Nasik-Nagpur (753 km), Delhi-Chandigarh-Ludhiana-
The Mumbai-Pune-Hyderabad (711 km) route will also feature Kalaburagi as an intermediate station.
This announcement by the NHSRCL comes just after in January-end, the Railway Board Chairman VK Yadav said the detailed project report (DPR) on the six lines will be ready within a year’s time.
However, the already approved Mumbai-Ahmedabad rail corridor has been progressing at a slow pace with the Maharashtra government not keen on the project and the Supreme Court set to hear disputes related to land acquisition.
Even experts have opined that rather than spending on high speed rail corridor infrastructure, the Railways should utilise existing resources far more efficiently.
“Bengaluru-Chennai already is on a semi-high speed route. But the Mysuru-Bengaluru route does not match the semi-high speed standards. But it also does not make sense to invest in high speed infrastructure in a suburban setup as you have to provide stoppages in between,” said Chitresh Srivastava, a railway policy columnist.
“High speed rail is not a viable idea compared to Train18 or Tejas Express as they can run on the existing tracks,” he added.