Railways Bill on high-speed train project in winter session


Source:  www.indiatimes.com

NEW DELHI: Railways is finalising a draft legislation for a project that envisages running trains with the speed of 300 kms per hour on some selected routes across the country.

The Bill is likely to be introduced in the winter session of Parliament.

“We are in the process of setting up the National High Speed Rail Authority (NHSRA), an autonomous body, to implement and monitor the high speed train project in the country and for this a legislation is required to set up the Authority,” said a senior Railway Ministry official.

According to the proposed NHSRA Bill, 2011, the nine- member Authority will have a chairman and eight members. There will be four full-time members including Member Project, Member Finance, Member Engineering and Member Planning.

“Stakeholders of the high speed rail corridor project will also have four representatives as part-time members in the NHRSA,” the official said.

The NHSRA is being proposed to be set up on the lines of the National Highway Authority and it would be under the Railways Ministry.

The selection of chairman and members of the NHSRA would be done by the Public Enterprise Selection Board (PESB) with the approval of Appointment Committee of Cabinet.

The draft of the Bill is being sent to Law Ministry, Urban Development Ministry, Finance Ministry and Planning Commission for their views. “The final draft of the NHSRA would be sent to the Cabinet for its approval before introducing it in Parliament,” said the official.

Railways have identified six routes to conduct feasibility study for running high speed trains. Currently railways is awarding contracts to global consultants for conducting feasibility studies of the proposed routes.

State governments and financial institutions are stakeholders of the high speed rail corridor project.

According to an estimate, it will cost about Rs 100 crore to construct one km dedicated high speed corridor. As per the preliminary report, ridership revenues would be able to cover the operating cost of the project.

Railways plan to make the high speed rail corridor into a catalyst for India’s economic growth, a stimulus for the development of satellite towns and reduction of migration to cities.

“We have chosen three foreign consultants to carry out studies in three corridors out of the six identified routes for conducting pre-feasibility studies for developing high speed rail corridors,” the official said.

UK-based consultant Mott McDonald has been engaged to conduct the pre-feasibility study of the longest Delhi-Agra- Lucknow-Varanasi-Patna (991 km) route, while Spanish consultant Eneco has been hired to carry out studies in the shortest Howrah-Haldia (135 km) route.

“French consultant Systra, which has done the studies for Pune-Mumbai-Ahmedabad (650 km) route, submitted the report to the Railway Ministry and the report is being examined now,” he said.

A consultant for study of Delhi-Chandigarh-Amritsar (450 km) route will be selected soon as the global bid is under finalisation.

While tenders for Hyderabad-Vijayawada-Chennai have been invited and are under evaluation, bids for Chennai-Bangalore- Ernakulum will be invited shortly.

During the Rail Budget 2010, then Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee announced construction of high speed passenger rail corridors. These projects will be executed through PPP mode.