Vijayawada (BZA): In what could revolutionize the rail network in the capital city area, the state government has set its eyes on linking the entire capital city region with the proposed high speed train corridor between Chennai and Hyderabad. A proposal to rope in firms from China and Japan to take up the high speed rail project is under active consideration of the Chandrababu Naidu government.
With the Chennai-Hyderabad corridor passing through Vijayawada, the Naidu government wants to expand the high speed rail network to key stations in the Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA) area. The government has already identified 40 such stations in the CRDA limits which would get semi-high speed or high speed train network. Besides the district headquarter towns of Machilipatnam and Guntur, municipal towns like Gudivada, Tenali, Sattenapalle and Mangalagiri would be included in the high speed train connectivity plan.
“Our main aim is to make the capital city region connected with all the metros in the country and the high speed train network provides just that. Most of the municipal towns in the capital city area will come under the ambit of this network,” CRDA commissioner N Srikanth told TOI. The Centre has already cleared nine key routes for upping the speed limits of trains from the existing 100 kmph to 150-160 kmph.
While the New Delhi-Agra section is almost ready to run the semi-high speed trains, the other eight routes, including Chennai-Hyderabad, have been cleared in the recent railway budget. Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO), Oriental Consultancy and Parsons Brinckerhoff, a multinational engineering and design firm, have started studying the feasibility of the high speed rail network between Chennai and Hyderabad.
“I have suggested to the state government to opt for the high speed train network to connect Guntur-Tenali-Mangalagiri towns with Vijayawada metro project as it would be less expensive,” metro rail project advisor E Sreedharan reasoned. While the proposed metro rail project is expected to cost around Rs 250-Rs 300 crore per km, the high speed train network would cost around Rs 70-Rs 100 crore per km.
According to sources, the state government has asked Singapore master plan designers to take the high speed train network proposal into consideration while finalizing the master plan for the capital city. Although the Centre has decided to run high speed trains in select routes, the state government is pitching for the network to lure investors and tourists to the capital city area.
The railway ministry had granted nod for the high speed train network under ‘diamond quadrilateral’ (Delhi-Mumbai-Chennai-Kolkata-Delhi) project for about 7,000 km. Nearly a 1,000 km line passes through Andhra Pradesh, including Vijayawada. While the semi-high speed trains run at a speed of 160 kmph, high speed trains are set to chug along at 250-300kmph.