The Indian government is looking to build a 10,000km [6000 mile] -long high-speed rail network, called the diamond quadrilateral, which connects four major cities, but the project has been slow going due to the high costs involved.
A top government panel looking after “innovative collaborations” is currently assessing a feasibility study conducted by the Japanese for a 505km bullet train corridor connecting the cities of Mumbai to Ahmedabad. The Chinese, meanwhile, were recently chosen to do a similar study for two other rail links, including a 1,200km Delhi to Mumbai stretch.
The Diamond Quadrilateral is a project of the Indian railways to establish high speed rail network in India. This quadrilateral will connect the four metro cities in India, i.e. Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata. This project is similar to Golden Quadrilateral which is a roadway project which connects the four metros by Express Ways.
The Indian railways network – Asia’s second largest after China – remains a cheap source of transport, with 23 million people travelling every day on trains throughout the vast country.
The prices of tickets have been kept low to make them affordable even for the poor, but this has led to a lack of funds for the development or expansion of the network. This is in contrast to the boom in low-cost air travel.
Japan – which recently lost out to China on a high-speed rail project in Indonesia – is seen to be ahead in India. Junior Railway Minister Manoj Sinha, in a written reply in Parliament, noted that Japan is the “only country to offer funding” .
Tokyo has offered a loan for 81 per cent of the cost for the Mumbai to Ahmedabad stretch which, according to the feasibility report by Japan International Cooperation Agreement, will cost 980 billion rupees (S$20.5 billion) over seven years.
India has one of the largest rail networks in the world, but as of 2015 it does not have any line classed as high-speed rail (HSR), which allows an operational speed of 200 km/h or more, either operational and construction. The current fastest train in India is the Gatimaan Express that runs with a top speed of 160 km/h, with average speed of above 100 km/hr, and as of 2015 India does not have any roadmap or concrete plan to implement High-speed railway with all the projects still in consultation and ideation stage.
Indian Railways aims to increase the speed of passenger trains to 160–200 km/h on dedicated conventional tracks. They intend to improve their existing conventional lines to handle speeds of up to 160 km/h, with a goal of speeds above 200 km/h on new tracks with improved technology.
In February 2014, Henri Poupart-Lafarge of Alstom, manufacturer of trains used on TGV in France, stated that India is at least 5–10 years away from high-speed trains. He suggested the country should first upgrade the infrastructure to handle trains travelling 100 to 120 km/hr