A bullet train under serious consideration of the Railway Board would cut
down travel time between Delhi and Varanasi - a distance of 720 km - from the
present 12 hours, to just 2 hours and 37 minutes.
The project connecting the holy city - Lok Sabha constituency of Prime
Minister Modi - with national capital is a priority for the ruling BJP
government at the centre.
When operational, travel from Delhi to Lucknow (440 km) will take just one
hour and 38 minutes. A Spanish firm M/s INECO-TYPSA-ICT which was doing
feasibility study of the project, which is part of Delhi-Kolkata high-speed
corridor (1474.5 km) has submitted the draft final report to high-speed rail
corporation and railway board on Thursday.
According to the report, the fare of Rs 4.5/km was considered as base fare
which means travel between Delhi to Lucknow will cost at least Rs 1,980 and
Delhi to Varanasi will cost around Rs 3,240. The project will be the third
high-speed project at different stages of conception and execution.
The construction on Mumbai-Ahmedabad corridor will start in September this
year while the Mumbai-Nagpur stretch is on advance stage of getting approvals.
All other cities have to wait for their turn.
If the project starts in 2021, the Delhi-Lucknow stretch will be
operational by 2029 while Delhi-Varanasi stretch will be functional by 2031.
The Delhi-Varanasi stretch will pass through Greater Noida, Aligarh,
Lucknow, Sultanpur and Jaunpur. The station at Jaunpur was not part of earlier
plan, but was added after lobbying by the area MP Krishna Pratap Singh who argued
that the stoppage will ensure development of the backward region of eastern UP.
The report has proposed the main terminal in Delhi near Akshardham Temple.
The preliminary cost, without rolling stock, being worked out is estimated to
be about Rs 52,680 crore for the Delhi-Varanasi stretch of 720km and around Rs
1.21 lakh crore for the entire Delhi-Kolkata corridor of 1474.5km.
A railway official said the report was discussed by the railway board on
July 14 and changes which were suggested will be incorporated.